As the end of September closes in, one California grape grower is looking towards wrapping up the season on a proprietary variety that it discovered in its fields more than 10 years ago. Mirabella Farms Inc.’s now proprietary variety, the Red Malibu Seedless grape, was discovered then but has been available commercially now for five years.
“It has been available on a very limited basis because we had a small test plot and were marketing in certain areas,” says Philippe Markarian of Mirabella Farms. “However we’ve also been increasing our acreage due to the demand we’ve seen for it.”
The jumbo-size grape is up to an inch in diameter and is cherry red to light red in color and some have a tendency even to have a blond or green finish to them. “They have a very thin skin and are very crunchy on first or second bite as well. It’s also very, very sweet so with high sugars,” says Markarian of the premium grape variety.
However, gaining consumer awareness in the field of increasing grape variety options can be challenging. Right now, the grape is only available on the West Coast. This past weekend, the grower-shipper, via a partnership with Albertsons, was showcasing it in stores via sampling to expand shoppers' familiarity with it.
Separating from the crowd
That varietal definition also can be found on its packaging. Mirabella Farms is opting to put the variety in clamshells with the Red Malibu label to help separate it from other grapes though variable-weight bags will eventually be available as well.
The season is a short one on this variety--from late August through September so the grower-shipper is on the tail end of what has been a challenging grape season. “We’ve been dealing with the effects of Hurricane Hilary destroying a lot of the table grape crop this year, though while we received some rain, our crops were somewhat spared,” says Markarian.
While the rain event has strengthened overall grape pricing, Mirabella Farms has kept pricing on Red Malibu similar to last year’s pricing in order to promote the variety.