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US agriculture investor expands into grape business

Agriculture Capital have announced its purchase of Columbine Vineyards, a Kern County-based table grape operation. Columbine has nearly 7,000 acres of farm land, a state-of-the-art cold storage facilities, and other operating assets. Columbine Vineyards is a proud family owned business, having been owned and operated by the Caratan family for four generations.

Agriculture Capital was founded in 2014 and has permanent crop operations through California and Oregon and, as of late 2017, in Australia. The purchase of Columbine Vineyards marks its first investment in the grape-growing industry. Up until now, the business has been focused on blueberries, hazelnuts, and citrus. "Agriculture Capital was drawn to the quality of the Columbine team," a company spokesperson said. "Additionally, the access of the Columbine operation to extraordinary natural resources and growing conditions, a shared tradition of providing extraordinary value to customers and consumers, the valuable grape varieties that have been developed and grown at Columbine and the legacy of the Caratan family in managing efficiently and effectively."

More than year-round availability
One of the reasons Agriculture Capital wanted to expand into grapes was to give it access to a year-round offering. However, the main motivation was to expand on healthier food options for customers from sustainable natural resources. As a result, they saw Columbine as a good fit due to their impressive history.

"Certainly, this gives us the year-round availability," they said. "Also, the purpose of our organization is to grow access to better and healthier food, grown in a sustainable way. So we are looking for opportunities to meet consumer demand for the best produce and the best fresh food. We see Columbine as a as a real leader in table grapes and felt like we had a great opportunity to bring them into our family."

Columbine also positive
As for Columbine Vineyards, they say they are excited to partner with Agriculture Capital. From their point of view, Agriculture Capital is a complementary partner in meeting the needs of their customers.

“Columbine Vineyards has been my family’s pride and joy for over 90 years, and we are delighted to be entrusting our legacy to Agriculture Capital and to the AC Foods family,” said Martin Caratan, Columbine's president and CEO (pictured right, with his family). “We were drawn to AC because of the extraordinary amount of care they bring to the land and to the communities where they operate. We share with them a deep commitment to the protection and conservation of natural resources and to supporting the people who make the production of food in the Central Valley possible. I can speak for all of the Caratans when I say we look forward to AC’s plans and are eager to support them as they move forward.”

“We’re very impressed with how Agriculture Capital has built AC Foods to offer customers year-round access to the best fresh fruits and nuts,” said Keith Andrew, sales manager for Columbine Vineyards. “At Columbine, our customers have always had extremely high expectations, and we’re looking forward to joining a team that is uniquely able to meet those kinds of expectations. AC Foods’ consumer focus and sense of purpose represent a true 21st century food business.”

Common vision celebrated
Yesterday, the two companies joined in a celebration to mark the official commencement of their partnership. The common theme was the shared vision that the two companies have. Agriculture Capital want to continue to celebrate the history of Columbine and will retain the brand moving forward.

“It is truly a pleasure to welcome Columbine Vineyards to our growing family," said Tom Avinelis (right), of Agriculture Capital. "We came together as a team with a common vision of sustainably growing the healthiest, most nutritious, and highest quality food for families across the US and around the world. We believe the farms and facilities of Columbine will become an iconic part of our business and are looking forward to celebrate Columbine's history and work with their customers to meet the growing demand for healthy, delicious food.”

Columbine Vineyards has been continuously growing a wide range of table grape varieties in California’s Kern County since 1926.

For more information:
Wood Turner
Agriculture Capital
Tel: +1 (206) 898-3028

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