With a continued desire to stay ahead of the curve, Sunridge Nurseries has done it again. In order to maintain the best quality plant material in the industry today, Sunridge has developed the largest, isolated Protocol 2010 increase block in the world!

What a blessing it is to be located in the Cuyama Valley where the human population is less than the cows and other vineyards and agricultural crops are miles away.

The FPS Foundation Plant Services at U.C. Davis releases small amounts of newly, cleaned up scions and rootstocks to be increased and then planted in CDFA inspected increase blocks. Sunridge began planting this block as soon as the first material was released four years ago.

“Our industry is constantly being threatened by pests and diseases and we felt that creating a totally isolated site was the only solution to keeping this plant material clean and viable. We want to provide our clients with the best possible product for years to come,” says Sunridge Nurseries president, Glen Stoller.

Because of this attitude Sunridge Nurseries continues to earn the reputation of uncompromising excellence in producing the highest quality products possible.

by Michael Vietti

Sunridge Nurseries is excited to announce that it has embarked on an expansion project that will increase their overall production area by an additional 7 acres of greenhouses and shade houses. These state of the art, Agra-Tech solar light ranges will come equipped with the latest technologies in greenhouse climate and irrigation controls. By incorporating higher gutter heights, ridge roof vents and internal shade curtains, coupled with energy efficient double wall polycarbonate coverings, we expect to shorten our crop time on potted grafted vines and do it with fewer energy inputs. Other features include the addition of HAF fans and light diffusion in the polycarbonate coverings which will allows us to grow at higher crop densities without sacrificing plant quality.

The expansion project will increase our overall capacity by 2 million potted vines under a protected insect free environment. This, along with all concrete flooring and roadways throughout the entire project and our continued use of all metal benching, will help to provide for a more disease free growing area. The ability to wash down benches, floors and walkways with disinfectants both before and after vines move thru the facility is a critical step in keeping the vines free of unwanted diseases.

Another key element we’ve added to the project is the use of watering booms for irrigation. By using booms, we can more precisely direct water, fertilizers and plant protectants to our vines. This in turn will help to conserve water and prevent unwanted fertilizers and pesticides from moving offsite. One of the more evident plant quality improvements you can expect to see with our use of irrigation booms will be in the area of root mass and health. With higher quality roots, comes healthier overall plant growth, which in turn should result in quicker plant establishment in your vineyard and with fewer losses as well.

Michael graduated from CSU, Chico in 1978, with a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture and specialization in Ornamental Horticulture. The first 26 years of his career were spent in the greenhouse production of ornamental and floriculture crops servicing independent nurseries and large retail garden centers. Prior to joining Sunridge Nurseries, Michael had spent 11 ½ years in the grapevine and tree nursery business conducting horticultural research on tree and vine crops.

As he was born in Bakersfield and raised in the Arvin area, this is a homecoming His parents and three of his four siblings still reside in Kern County.

“Having the opportunity to join Sunridge Nurseries and reconnect to my agricultural roots, is a wonderful blessing! Some of my best times as a teen growing up were spent working for an Arvin area farmer, moving sprinkler pipe, hoeing cotton and driving tractors. That was back in the day when a 13 year old could learn what hard work and responsibility really meant! Summers home from college were spent working in Kern County packing sheds.”

Kathleen, Michael’s wife of 35 years and Michael have raised four sons and a daughter. Three of his sons have careers in agriculture in the Visalia and Turlock areas. His spare time is spent gardening and chasing after trout on the upper Kern River and other waters of the state, with his fly rod in hand.

I believe that everyone in our industry agrees: nurseries have a responsibility to provide the cleanest and most disease free grapevines in order to establish a healthy and long lived vineyard. Without disease free plants, the life of vineyards could be reduced significantly. And I would say for the most part, nurseries have done a pretty good job at aiming to supply good quality plants at a fair and reasonable price. However, there is always room for improvement and here at Sunridge Nurseries, we are no different. We are always being challenged to find ways to ‘clean up our act’. Fortunately, in this age of technology, we have increasingly more resources available to us from other industries. Additionally, with a little effort and some ingenuity, these technologies can easily be adapted into our nursery practices.

dirt on nurseries workerThe Down ‘n’ Dirty

It should come as no surprise, that the processes that are used by nurseries to create grafted vines is the ‘perfect storm’ of conditions to potentially compromise plant material. Everything from field harvesting, storage, and HWT (hot water treatment); to grafting, callusing, and potting; many opportunities exist where bacteria and fungal problems could be introduced. Employee retention is without question a key component in producing the highest quality, disease free plants. Production specialists who regularly handle the plant material can recognize and be on the lookout for the signs and symptoms of problematic plant material. Here at Sunridge our employees have decades of experience from the harvest of nursery stock, until each plant is shipped.

Getting’ Clean, It’s a Step by Step Process

That’s right, take a look at every step in the process and then take every opportunity to make it as clean as you possibly can. That’s exactly what we are doing as we get prepared for the upcoming 2017 Season. Everything that we can do; from the use of chemical disinfectants - to UV Light, to biocides and biologicals; we are looking for ways to incorporate them into the production process. We are especially interested in the research being conducted on certain species of Trichoderma, Mycorrhizae and Bacillus organisms that have plant protective qualities and their positive impact on vine health, growth and vitality. It is an ongoing and ever contiguous progression throughout the nursery facility. Furthermore, we are really excited about our new greenhouse and shade house expansion project that is designed with cleanliness in mind!

Bottom Line, It’s All About: Prevention and Protection.

First, it all begins with clean plants. We are embarking on a new virus testing procedure for our certified mother blocks that is designed to test every plant that comes into the nursery within a 3 year cycle. The State regulations only require that it is done every 5 years! By the time you read this, Production Manager/… Leo Villanueva and I will have met with an independent lab out at our Cuyama Valley ranch, to design the best possible plan on how to accomplish this! During the interim we will be able to continue the judicious use of registered pesticides at our isolated ranch which will protect our mother stock from unwanted insect vectors and diseases. This way our customers will be ensured, to the best of our abilities, that clean plant material is available.

By the way, I know this sounds like we just discovered cleanliness- but the truth be known, Sunridge has been exercising these practices for many, many years! This is really about you, our customer and our renewed commitment to you to be the very best supplier of clean and disease free plant material in the industry!

Ciao,

Michael Vietti
Horticulturist
Sunridge Nurseries

Founded in 2001 in Bakersfield, California, International Fruit Genetics (IFG) develops new varieties of table grapes and sweet cherries and has quickly grown to become one of the top breeding operations in the world. IFG’s breeding program seeks to create new varieties, which have important commercial advantages over existing public, or proprietary varieties. IFG has patented 23 new grape varieties and 4 new low chill cherry varieties. There are many more selections in the pipeline currently undergoing testing both in the United States and in production regions worldwide. IFG has created a worldwide community by licensing the right to grow its proprietary varieties to top growers and marketers in fifteen countries. Through its proprietary varieties, quality standards and grower community, IFG has developed a reputation for excellence with growers, marketers, and retailers worldwide. IFG is led by the worldrenowned plant breeder, Dr. David Cain and Dr. Chis Owens, a molecular biologist research specialist in plant breeding.

ifg davidBy David Mann

I have been involved in the sales end of IFG (International Fruit Genetics) since its inception. We now have 23 patented varieties doing well internationally and domestically. We are planted in 15 countries and have currently 35,591 acres in the ground worldwide. With the cost of labor and materials continuing to go up we at IFG have always felt the time for reducing costs are here and here to stay. That is why we are producing table grape varieties that require less input from the grower and hand work to make exceptional new and different varieties. So far we have been successful in achieving just that. IFG (International Fruit Genetics) is working with the industry’s top table grape growers in the world. We here at IFG (International Fruit Genetics) feel the best is still yet to come.

By Pamela Dykes

It was an annual family reunion. That’s not quite true but it was a reunion for sure and everyone felt like family at an important gathering for worldwide growers of table grapes. On August 18th, Sunridge owned International Fruit Genetics in conjunction with co-owner Jack Pandol, had its third IFG Global Summit in Bakersfield, California. Here, the top table grape growers from around the globe came together to see the new varieties being created by IFG and network with IFG licensed growers from thirteen different countries. Over 300 growers, retailers, and importers came together to walk the fields, taste the fruit, and study the growth and marketing of the most innovative new varieties of table grapes in the world. Each year IFG’s global presence has increased; and as the numerous buses pulled out for the field tours with trailing cars, all of us at IFG could not believe how much we have grown since our first Summit meeting in 2012.

This bi-annual event has become a place where anyone in the table grape community wants to be in attendance. It was exciting and wonderful to see old friends, make new ones, and keep buzzing about the new creations developed by IFG’s rock star plant breeder, Dr. David Cain. Most of you have heard about Cotton Candy® – not the kind you buy at the fair but the kind that is found in your grocery stores and looks like a grape…This is the kind of fruit being developed by Dr. Cain and his team to bring new, flavorful, and exciting table grape varieties to consumers. IFG is a table grape breeding company formed in 2001 that uses traditional methods of cross breeding to develop new varieties that are easier to grow with less input and have interesting shapes and flavors. Today, IFG has twenty-three patented table grape varieties with long shapes; raspberry and strawberry flavors; and sweet white, black and red varieties – mmmhmmm, good to eat grapes! IFG licenses growers around the world to grow and sell these patented varieties, creating a revolution in the table grape industry.

ifg pam 2

Furthermore, collaboration of all our licensees gives IFG the opportunity to bring everyone together and learn about these varieties, discuss how to grow them in different global regions, and share ideas about marketing strategies. During the Summit, IFG brought in a panel of seasoned retail experts who gave their insights on how to make the best fruit available to consumers. The room was packed and we had to collect all the chairs in the facilities with many attendees still at standing room only. After the day was through, everyone gathered to celebrate and enjoy seeing old friends and make new ones at a gala dinner

It’s often asked of us why Sunridge doesn’t keep the appearance of our facilities newer looking with fresh paint and modern imagery, as some of the newer nurseries have. The short answer is, we don’t care much about that. Our family built this company in 1978 on the foundation of quality, service, and innovation as it relates directly to producing a better product, with higher quality. As a result, our investments remain 100% within the people that make our company what it is today, and the products we provide. This is why we remain focused on only grape plant materials, and continue the tradition of innovation and improvements beyond the glitz and glamour.

After 38 years in the industry, we have seen every kind of nursery and seen a variety of ways to plant and handle grapevines. We have had the great opportunity to partner with experts from UC Davis, and hire some of the very best in the field, to help get us where we are today. So we have no doubt that the ways in which we are doing things are not only efficient, but they are extremely effective.

The “new” look is always fashionable when it’s new. But like all things, the newness wears off, and what’s left is what is between those walls, and under that allure –the people and the product. At Sunridge, we have the unique ability to expose our greatest assets, our people and product, without needing to add any glitz and glamour.

So when you look for a nursery, our best advice is to look at the product, beneath the glamour. If you want experience, longevity, quality, service, and a partnership- Sunridge Nurseries is that company. We are a family that puts quality at the forefront of all we do. Customers are lifelong friends and partners.

unifiedThis year Sunridge had the privilege of not only attending, but also being a proud sponsor of the 2016 Unified Wine and Grape Symposium, the largest wine and grape industry tradeshow in North America.

Every year, two nonprofit organizations, the American Society for Enology and Viticulture (ASEV) and the California Association of Winegrape Growers (CAWG), host the three-day event that is filled with quality speakers, valuable information sessions and behind the scene exhibit tours. The Symposium hones in on four key topics; grape growing, winemaking, marketing/public relations and business/operations, in order to give its guests a well rounded experience. Unified in 2016 alone was host to more than 13,800 total attendees, including over 650 exhibitors.

“We are honored to be a part of this wonderful event, where we get the chance to learn more about the industry today, and future trends on the rise,” explains Glen Stoller, President of Sunridge Nurseries. “We enjoy getting the chance to connect with industry leaders, partners, and long time clients and friends.”

Sunridge dedicates time year round to staying present in the industry by attending a plethora of trade shows and events.

Supporting the industry’s efforts, and the communities in which they operate, is a top priority of Sunridge Nurseries.

“We take pride in everything we do and we always love the opportunity to do more when we can,” Stoller said. “That’s why we are fortunate enough to have participated in the Unified trade show for many years now and we plan on continuing to for many more years to come.”

ENTAV was created in 1962. It is a technical center which goal is the leadership and coordination of the national clonal selection program in France. Studying and testing French clones, presenting them for certification and conserving the material in mother block repositories have been their focus for more than fifty years. Their clonal selections come from all the French wine regions and include the most prestigious appellations. Each clone before being released has the culmination of more than fifteen years of rigorous and methodical research and testing.

ENTAV’s headquarters near the Mediterranean coast in Le Grau du Roi in Southern France has more than 80 hectares of clean, sandy soil where the clones are grown and conserved in the best cultural practices.

ENTAV original focus 1) selection, 2) maintenance of clean material, 3) providing material for the nursery industry.

IFV (French Institute for Vines and Wines) resulted from the merging of ENTAV and ITV (Technical Institute for Viticulture) France in 2007. The new focus is on the studies for the whole French wine industry on subjects such as plant material, vine growing, vineyard management, wine making and marketing. Their main tasks are sanitary and genetic selection of clones for grape varieties and rootstock varieties, conservation of this selected grape plant material, and research on diseases and molecular analysis for variety identification. They are currently focusing on the effects of global warming; at the clonal level looking for clones with lower brix and higher acidity or clones with late maturity. In terms of varieties, they are investigating the old French patrimony like varieties such as white Carignan that growers gave up growing in the 1960s because they ripened too late and now they find new interest in these varieties. IFG is investigating this old neglected cultivar. They are doing some selection in the Meditteranean vineyards such as Greece and Southern Italy like Touriga Nacional from Portugal or Agiorgitiko from Greece to give to growers the opportunity to grow in drought conditions and summer heat. With global warming there are two problems – earlier varieties and during the summer when it is very hot, it is hard to get good aromatic maturity and good sufficient technological maturity with sugar and acidity.

IFG is also focusing on Downey and Powdery Mildew resistance. With INRA, IFV is doing some breeding for PM and DM resistance. The first new material will be officially registered next year.

New clones every year are being registered and will become available in California in a few years. Look for new Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir clones.

ENTAV International is a subsidiary of INRA and IFV – responsible for the ENTAV-INRA trademarks, which were created 21 years ago in 1999. It manages the international trademark licensing relationships and also provided seminars, workshops, and licensee services.

The trademarks are now registered in 50 countries including Chile, Argentina, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and Greece.

The partnership brought an important advance tothe wine industry and helped put California wineson a par with the international wine community.

In January 2016, Sunridge had their annual visit from long time partner, IFV, with leaders from the Institut Français de la Vigne et du Vin: Jean-Pierre Van Ruyskensvelde, General Manger, Laurent Audeguin, Research and Development Manager, and Samiha El Guerne, Commercial Assistant.

Every year our French partners come to visit the ENTAV-INRA clonal selections in the mother blocks at Sunridge Nurseries and discuss the promotion of the trademarked clones that were brought into the United States starting in 1998 when Sunridge Nurseries signed an agreement with ENTAV, the French National Technical Center for the Improvement of Viticulture.

After the visit to the nursery, our team took them to see the King’s NBA game before Unified. It was a game that ended in two overtimes with the Kings coming out ahead. As Jean-Pierre expressed, “What a game!”.

The next day Sunridge assisted in setting up the clonal tasting of wines that ENTAV brings each year to the Unified Symposium so our customers can taste and discuss the merits of the clones. Laurent, the Research and Development Manager, said that this year’s Unified “was one of the best in their many years of attending and having a booth at the event”.

HISTORY OF THE SUNRIDGE-ENTAV PARTNERSHIP:

ENTAV’s certified grapevine clonal selections were brought into the United States through the University of California’s Foundation Plant Service (FPS) and underwent vigorous testing in a two-year quarantine before being planted into mother blocks at Sunridge. The clonal selections came directly from the ENTAV repositories in France under the ENTAV-INRA trademark. Sunridge has offered these selections to its customers of grape plants produced from authenticated clonal selections obtained from ENTAV’s huge library of certified clones comprising today of 1,220 clones for 320 wine grape varieties and 200 clones for 28 rootstocks.

The original idea for this partnership was to allow Sunridge to provide both new varieties and new clonal selections of popular varieties to meet the growing demand for California premium wines. Sunridge was prompted to bring this clonal material by the demand from the industry for more diversified clonal materials that were sanitary and clean. The French materials had more genetic diversity that offered growers more variety. It provided a diversity that currently wasn’t available. By tapping into more than fifty years of research and evaluation of the growing, winemaking, and tasting accomplished by ENTAV, the highest authority in France for the selection and preservation of clonal selections of French wine grapes, the wine industry in California was given the opportunity to get official material exclusively and directly from the ENTAV conservatories. When they were established in the Sunridge mother blocks, they carried a guarantee of authenticity and transparency of pedigree. The ENTAV-INRA trademark substantiates that the origin and authenticity of the clones are guaranteed.

Recently Sunridge Nurseries, one of the oldest and the largest grapestock nurseries, announced the purchase of almost 1000 acres of virgin property to be used exclusively for the planting of Protocol 2010 material. This property has "true" isolation from any other vineyards that might harbor diseases and vectors.

Sunridge is well known in the industry for being on the forefront of new developments. This new growing block will provide Sunridge customers with the cleanest vines in the industry. This new acreage lies west of the company headquarters in Bakersfield. The new ranch will only be planted with Protocol 2010 material. All of the Protocol 2010 material has been micro-shoot tip cultured to remove all Grapevine Leaf roll viruses, fungal and bacterial pathogens, Phytoplasmas, Crown Gall bacteria, and Red Blotch virus.

"Sunridge Nurseries has always been an innovator. It was the next step for us as a commitment to an investment that allowed us to grow our high quality vines in the cleanest environment possible. We are now on a strict self-Quarantine in all property access and cultural practices. Our customers trust us to deliver what we promise and we intend to do exactly that." Explain's Tom Bracken, CFO of Sunridge Nurseries.

Sunridge is a family owned operation that started almost 36 years ago by Glen Stoller and his wife Terri. Glen started the company with the philosophy that the customer's success was the only way to measure Sunridge's success. He chose Bakersfield because it was the ideal place to grow a variety of vines in a clean environment.

Glen's commitment to the customer and to providing the cleanest vines in the industry is still the driving force today. Maniaci says, "We are thinking 2, 3, 4 and even more years into the future. We are always looking for what we can do to give our customers what they will need when they need it. Offering the cleanest vines in the industry is just one way we provide what is best for our valued customer."

For several years the US has been increasing its love of wine. This combined with a sharp decrease in wine consumption in Europe—especially France, Italy and Spain—means that the US in now the number 1 wine market in the world consuming 13% of all the wine the world produces.

One Gallup survey showed that young Italians perceived wine as a drink for their parents, preferring beer or cocktails to the almost national drink. However, in the US, the demographic with the greatest growth for wine consumption is young adults—under 35 years old. The size of the US population has an impact on the consumption. America has a huge population. So even though our per capita consumption is not as high as say Italy or France, the number of people drinking wine continues to rise steadily.

What are all these people drinking? According to Steve Maniaci, General Manager for Sunridge Nurseries, the favorites are still the favorites. He said "Our most popular vines are Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir – year in and year out."

The increase in domestic demand lead to a roughly 2% increase in production and approximately a 4% increase in prices. This is good news for everyone in the wine industry. Wine is now grown in virtually all 50 states in one form or another. Quality remains to be stable and people are finding that wine is not just for special occasions anymore.