Here at Whole Foods Market, we are always driven by our Core Values
, and that includes selling the highest quality products available, satisfying and delighting our customers and caring about our communities and environment. With those values in mind, Chuck Anunciation, one of our Produce Field Inspectors, and I recently visited Chile where we met our new Rainforest Alliance certified table grape growers and inspected their crop. Grown in the San Felipe and Rancagua regions of Chile, we have partnered with the growers Exser, Gioia and Aldunate to feature the sweetest, most flavorful grapes available while ensuring their farms protect soils, waterways, wildlife habitat and the rights and welfare of workers, their families and communities. What a strong connection with our Core Values.
Exser Thompson ranch - Chile
Because Chile is in the Southern Hemisphere, their fruit ripens during our winter making them a natural partner allowing us to offer high quality fruit year round. Chances are if you have been enjoying grapes, peaches, plums, nectarines, apricots and blueberries this winter, they were grown in Chile. The growers and their farming practices in Chile are very sophisticated and we work hard to seek out top quality producers and feature products that are truly unique and different.
Chuck and Chris inspecting newly harvested red seedless grapes
The opportunity to visit our growers in person is invaluable to building a long lasting partnership. We are able to understand the challenges our growers face in regards to their specific climates and growing regions and the growers appreciate meeting us and are extremely proud to have their fruit featured in Whole Foods Market. Fernando DeBasa from Aldunate, a producer of our Rainforest Alliance certified grapes lives and works in the Coltauco Valley under the shadow of the Poqui Mountains. Fernanado's grapes are special because of the people who grow them; some have been working with grapes for 40 years, passing their traditions and growing secrets along to successive generations. Guerino Gioia, an Italian immigrant, came to Chile via Argentina in 1930 and is said to have developed the first Chilean table grape destined for export; the Gioia family are proud producers of our Rainforest Alliance certified grapes. Andres Ureta of Exser is focused on efficient and earth-friendly farming practices for water and soil preservation and are devoted to farming Rainforest Alliance certified grapes in some of Chile's most challenging conditions- mountain slopes and valleys.
Thompson Seedless on the vine
The varieties of grapes for our Rainforest Alliance certified program were chosen for big fruit size and sweet flavor. Our green grapes are primarily a Thompson seedless variety - an elongated grape that is plump and juicy. Thompson Seedless grapes have a yellow cast or straw color with a touch of amber when they are at their peak flavor.
Our red seedless grapes are a combination of Flame and Queen Red varieties which are both round grapes that are hard and crunchy and very sweet. Red grapes are best when fully colored and always picked ripe as they do not ripen further once off the vine.
Black seedless grapes
The black seedless grapes are primarily the Autumn Royal variety which is also very crisp and sweet, oval shaped and the purple-black skin has a whitish cast or bloom while the interior is an attractive, translucent yellow-green. We will be featuring these delicious Rainforest Alliance certified table grapes through March.
Chuck under the canopy