In episode 009 in our first special episode we will be interviewing the CEO of Grapery, Jim Beagle about what you can expect from Grapery during the 2022 grape season. Grapery is widely known for their amazing grapes that taste like Cotton Candy as well as uniquely shaped grapes like Moon Drops.
Here is the transcript from our interview with Jim Beagle.
Eric: Hey everybody. Uh, welcome to the Eat, Shop, Waste Not podcast. I'm excited to present our first, um, interview, our special episode. Uh, today I'm here with the CEO of Grapey Jim beagle. Um, thank you for coming to us and welcome to the podcast, Jim.
Jim: Hi, Eric. Thanks for having me. It's a pleasure to be on here and, uh, get a chance to talk to everybody. Um, we're certainly proud of the grapes we grow. My name's Jim beagle, as Eric said, I'm the CEO of Grapery. We grow the most flavorful grapes in the world in central California, in the San Joaquin valley.
And that's all we do is we grow table grapes in California and we grow, uh, everything we do is all about growing the best tasting grapes we can. So thanks for having me join you.
Eric: Absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah.
I've been out to the grape before, see their facilities there. It's all. It's amazing. So, you know, absolutely. This is one of my favorite, uh, fruit crew company. So I'm excited to have you on, on today. Um, so before we get into the grapes here, I want, uh, Jim, you wanna share a little bit about, um, who you are and like what your history and grapes and how you got kind of started in the biz?
Jim: Yeah, I'm glad to. So, um, I grew up in near Bakersfield, California, which is in the San Joaquin valley Kern and Tulare counties grow over 80% of the table grapes grown in the United States. So this is table grape central, where we are, and that's where we grow all of ours is Kern and Tulare counties. It's the best place in the world to grow great tasting table grapes.
So I grew up, you know, from a young age, uh, my dad worked as a foreman on a local ranch and he would take me out on weekends in the summers. And I learned to pick and pack grapes, um, alongside all the people, doing all the work in the hard work in the fields and really gain an appreciation for what goes into growing a great crop of grapes and the hard work that it takes from all the people that are in the fields, doing the jobs to provide us with great tasting fresh and healthy food.
So I, you know, I ended up going to college, um, at Davis. To, uh, study grape growing plant science and, um, and have just continued, you know, a long career in grapes and everything about grapes. And was fortunate enough, um, around 2006 or seven to meet up with, uh, my current business partner, Jack Pandol, who was working on developing new varieties of grapes that were far more flavorful and exciting and fun than anything we'd seen in the table, grape industry.
And so we decided to launch this Grapery adventure on flavor and have been building that together for the last 15 years, introducing new and fun and exciting flavors and shapes and, and really trying to connect with people on having a great experience with the fruit they eat..
Eric: That's amazing. Yeah, definitely we've seen just, uh, you know, besides you guys here, you guys kind of helped kick it off here, but now nowadays we're seeing like grape varieties on the actual packages now, um, you're not just eating red, green or black grapes somewhere. You have so many, so many more choices.
Um, so that's been super exciting that people are getting more, more excited about, um, grapes. You know, I can imagine when I was a kid, I wasn't like running to the store to find like, all these like unique and fun varieties, um, that you guys are growing.
Um, so that's, that's great. Um, um, I'm thankful that you got into the business and have, um, Start this company here it's been, it's been fun for us to, um, as a fan to look for your grapes every single season when they start coming out. So segue that, and two, I wanna look at the, the 2022 season, and just kind of give us an overview on what fans can expect to see this year and kind of like how, the supply looks as compared to maybe previous years.
Jim: Sure. Yeah. I'd love to. We're in a slow moving business in the table grip industry. So when we plant a vineyard, it takes three years for it to come into production. And then we expect that vineyard to last for 25 years giving us one crop every year. So we can't quickly increase or change what we have in terms of the amount of crop we have for people to be able to enjoy.
So really we've been building towards this year for a very long time. Of, you know, continuing each year to take out some of our older varieties and our older vineyards and plant newer vineyards with these exciting new varieties, um, and building up the volume each year. And that continues this year with, you know, better than ever availability.
And distribution of Cotton Candy grapes, uh, which you should see in all the retailers we work with, um, throughout starting in mid-August all the way into early October. Um, and so there'll be plentiful supplies of really high quality cotton candy. The other thing is with all these new varieties, there's a learning curve in how to grow them with really great, consistent flavor.
And so we've been growing cotton candy now for enough years, we've learned enough about it. That we can, that we really can do a good job growing it. So, uh, very confident about the consistency, quality and volume of supply of cotton candy. It'll be better than you've ever seen. Uh, moon drops is another one that we've, um, been growing for about the same amount of time.
And we've continued to have new vineyards come into production. And so we've got good availability of moon drops this year from late August is when they should be hitting the stores. Maybe a few in mid-August, but mostly late August, uh, till about the 1st of November or so. Um, is what we expect this year.
Uh, gum drops is really exciting. That's probably one of our newest things that you'll see that's different than in years past. In that in years past, it's been a little bit of a treasure hunt to find our gum drops because we haven't had enough volume to really have enough to get 'em into all the stores.
On a consistent enough basis that, you know, you can find it week in and week out. And I think we've really turned the corner on that this year. We've got a lot of new vineyards coming into production this year, and you should be able to find our gum drops, which is actually three different grape varieties that we rotate through at different times of the year
that all have a really exciting grape candy like flavor. That just it's. It's amazing. So those, um, from late July, Uh, is when you'll start seeing those in stores this year. And that'll last into late October, uh, probably 1st of November, which we're gonna have a great supply of gum drops this year.
Um, our teardrops, um, are unique shapes and we have very limited volume of those. So those as in years past, are not gonna be easy to find. They're still more at that treasure hunt stage. That's brand new for us. Um, and we have small acreage, so I hope you get the chance to try 'em and find them. And if you do, um, you'll find our email address and all our social media contacts on all of our packaging.
We'd love to hear from you what you think of our teardrops and really any of our other grape varieties. We'd love to hear from people. Um, but the teardrops are new enough. We wanna make sure that we're meeting your expectations. Um, with the way we're growing 'em so let us know and, um, we'll keep getting better at those and planting more and hopefully make those more widely available in future seasons.
And lastly, our limited grapes, um, which are grapes that don't have a surprising or unique shape or flavor, they just taste great. They taste like grapes really should taste. Um, with a really just rich and wonderful, full fruity grape flavor. And those, um, are in stores now. Uh, so that's, um, late July, uh, until mid-November that'll be the last grapes that we have on the shelf this year. We'll have limited and either, uh, sometimes red, sometimes green, sometimes black, sometimes all three. Um, but whatever's the peak of the season. It's gonna be the best you can get if you see our limited grapes. So that's the, that's the lineup.
And. And how we have, how we were positioned this year in terms of availability. And let me just add, cuz you asked, you know, in general how this year is going, we've got, it's been an excellent growing season. So the quality overall is really excellent. You know, there's some years that are better than others, some years as a farmer, you face more challenges than others and, and we're not done yet.
So, you know, anything can change at any time as any farmer will tell you. But, uh, so far we're here on the I think 11th of August today, uh, this year has been a very good growing season, uh, to grow high quality table grapes. And so we're really proud of the crop we're harvesting and gonna be putting in front of all of you, um, here over the next couple of months.
Eric: That's awesome. Great news and love to hear all the, the wonderful news and for people out there too, like, um, you know, the cotton candy grapes, you know, get all the, the publicity too, but definitely don't sneeze in any other varieties. Um, gum drops are some of my favorites. Um, even even the limited grapes, the, those are still, like he said, they're very, very good flavorful. Just your standard flavorful grapes here with really good texture on those. So if you see those, um, make sure to , grab a couple bags of those as well.
Jim: And we hear that from a lot of people, you know, everybody has a different favorite and we have enough flavors that, you know, people can pick and choose what their favorites are. And they might have people in their family that all have different favorites and, you know, maybe able to buy a mix of things.
That's gonna make everybody happy. And if you look for that, Grapery logo on the bag, we have a bunch of different fun colors. Um, uh, for the different varieties of grapes, we have to help you identify what they are, but they all have that in common that Grapery logo on the front of the bag or the clamshell, depending on where you're shopping.
Um, so you can know that whether you're buying gumdrops or cotton candy or moon drops, you know, there's different, people have different favorites. So find your favorite try and then, you know, just keep buying what you like.
Eric: Yeah. I, something, there would probably be shocked by this, but there are people that absolutely do not like the cotton candy grapes at all. So there's, you know, people do a different, different taste of flavors. So feel free if you haven't like something, give something else a try,
um, something wanna follow up and ask you about here.
And, and I kind know the answer to this already, but for those who don't know, um, there's been changes in the teardrops over the years from , what they originally was in the packages and what is, and now can you kind of, uh, explain to the fans what, um, has changed with those grapes?
Jim: Yeah. So we're constantly testing new varieties and there's so many exciting things that we see in the nursery that are a few vines of something that's really interesting shapes. And we're working really hard to find a way to introduce these fun shapes to people in a way that the quality's consistent enough that, you know, you have something you can count on, you know, time and again.
So the first one we found that Eric's referencing, we tried. I think seven years we grew that vineyard and we could just never get the quality quite right in a way that would, you know, was sustainable for us. So there was always a little bit of fruit that was amazing. And whenever anybody got any of that fruit, it was just, wow.
You know, this is the greatest thing. How can I find these more often? Well, we couldn't grow them consistently enough to provide them more often. And so. You know, we're beating our head against the wall with that one for for a long time. And we finally, you know, realized we were just never gonna be able to solve some of the issues with it.
But in the meantime, we'd been testing several other, uh, unique shapes. And so we've got this green tear drop now that we planted, uh, two years ago, that's got our first commercial crop this year. If you found any in prior years, it was just a little, a little tiny volume out of the nursery. Uh, but this year is the first year we actually have of, of commercial vineyard in production of those.
And, um, I hope it goes well. And if it does, we'll keep planting more and more, um, and we're trialing other new, you know, similar shapes all the time. So I, you know, it's a lot of trial and error in this business and for every success we have, we usually have four or five failures, but I know that we're headed down a path where we're gonna have more fun teardrops for people to try in future years.
I just can't tell you which year yet.
Eric: Yeah, that's exciting. Yeah. And for those that don't know too, there were, oh, originally there was, um, the red, more red colored teardrops that were originally called, Witch Finger grapes. And then they were, then we went over and changed the teardrop name. And then those are, which were red ones. Now the ones you talk about that have been dropped from the, uh, line,
Eric: So I wanted to ask, you about, something really cool about your grapes is that you guys are able to treat them really well post harvest. So kind of tell us a little bit about that process that really will help the consumer trust more in that the grapes they are gonna buy, are gonna last in their fridge as long as they can resist eating them, of course, but that they will last a little longer.
Jim: Yeah, so, so grapes are, what's called a non-climacteric fruit, meaning they don't continue to ripen after harvest. Right? So tomatoes, peaches, bananas. Those are all things that you can buy'em at the grocery store and bring'em home and they'll continue to ripen. It's not the case with grapes. And so grapes are the very best they will ever be at the very moment we harvest them. And we're harvesting grapes in hot places, in the summertime in hot weather, um, and heat is the, you know, enemy of flavor and shelf life. So we realize that if we're gonna grow grapes and deliver on grape flavor, we have to be the best in the world at when we cut those grapes off the vine, getting them cold quickly.
And so we've, we have a whole logistics operation and a cold storage facility. That allows us to cool grapes far faster than anybody else in the world. And that really helps us lock in that flavor and that shelf life. So the grapes can withstand, you know, being delivered from us to a grocery store and sitting on a grocery store shelf until you pick them up and take them home and put 'em in your refrigerator. And they should last as long as you need them to last, uh, to eat 'em and let, and you know, I mean, Eric made the point.
If as long as you can hold off, eating them fast. I mean, part of what we see is the equation that we have in food waste is there's so much food waste in fresh fruit and in grapes. When people buy fruit, that where they're disappointed in the taste, and then it just sits there in their refrigerator and you don't eat it.
And eventually end up throwing it away. That's a huge source of food, waste grapes. And so for us to deliver great taste every time to where you want to eat those grapes and you finish 'em, we've heard from so many people that they just don't waste our grapes because we meet their expectations. It sounds simple, but
it doesn't happen very often, you know, really in the world we live in. So yeah we take a lot of pride in having grapes that people want to eat, want to eat quickly, want to eat the whole bag and wanna go back and buy more. And make honestly healthier eating choices. Right? We wanna make it fun for people to eat healthy.
And sometimes it's not fun to go from eating something you really wanna indulge in to saying, well, now I gotta eat some, you know, kale or some brussel sprouts, right? I mean, it's, it's a lot more fun to go eat a grape that tastes like cotton candy and feel good about your healthy eating choice. And, and then also not have the waste that goes with it.
So that's, you know, that's the kind of thing that just really gets us up in the morning and drives our passion to grow great tasting fruit and, and hear from people. If that's the expectation that we're meeting. Cause that's what we, we wake up every morning trying to do that every day.
Eric: that's great. Yeah. And you make an excellent point too. Like years back, no one knew what a grape company was. I mean, you, you didn't know , who these people were. Most, most people in the store wouldn't have any idea , you know, where you're buying their grapes from.
Um, so you didn't know, like from one week to the next, like, were they gonna be good? Were they gonna be bad? So I think a lot of people buy, buy for that and have no idea if, you know, if it's they're gonna like it or not. Um, so that we know. Your brand becoming so recognizable and having the, packaging.
It's, it's very bold. you could see it, you know, before you get to the display, you can see there. Yep, there's Grapery! You guys are doing wonderful job of packaging. So that people can recognize
Jim: That's an important point, because what we've seen is, You know, having a great grape variety is important, right? You can't have something, you can't just make any grape variety taste like cotton candy. You have to have the right variety.
But if you don't also farm it right, and harvest it, right. That's almost, you know, more important than the variety. And so there's so many farmers out there in, in different places around the world. That, you know, put out a product that they just haven't learned how to innovate around the dedication to growing grape flavor that we have. But just cuz you put a label on it that says that it tastes like, you know, Grapery's gumdrops doesn't mean it actually does.
And so we think it's really important as you said, that that label that people can recognize and that, and that whether it's us or any other grapes you like, or any other kind of fruits you like, I can tell you, but the point I'm, I'm really trying to make in a roundabout way is it's more about the farmer than the grape than the variety of fruit.
Right? So connect on that packaging with who the farmer is that grew that stuff and understand that that's, that that's a farmer that you know, is dedicated to giving you the quality that you want. Because the farmer matters far more than the variety. And that goes for tomatoes and peaches and grapes and, and everything out there.
Eric: That great point. And this has been all wonderful information. Thank you so much for coming out.. Before you go. I wanted to ask, um, what is your favorite grape variety to eat?.
Jim: Oh, there's a variety we have called sweet celebration and it's a red grape that goes in our limited bag. So when you see our, our limited red grapes, um, in starting in late August until late October, early November. That is by far my, my favorite grape to eat. I, I can tell you, I, I eat grapes every day.
I mean, and during harvest, I'm tasting fruit in the vineyards, cuz I'm a big part of our decisions about, are these grapes ripe enough to pick yet or not? And you know, what's our expectation. Are we meeting that? So I eat more grapes than any of you can ever imagine. And I get, you know, kind of graped out where by the midpoint of the season, I'm, I'm getting that taste, cuz I need to know what they taste like, but I have to spit 'em out on the ground but, but when I, when it gets to the sweet celebration, I don't spit 'em out.
I just keep eating them and eating them and eating them until I make myself sick.
Eric: And I, I agree with him. That's it's a really good variety, really, really a crisp, big, juicy, grape to bite into. I, you do see them other actually other companies around the world country are, are now putting that variety in the package. You see it on the package here. Um, so, but the Grapery ones still have the, I think the best for the, that texture.
Um, They're awesome. So you'll definitely look for those too. All right, Jim, thank you so much for, uh, coming on. I appreciate, , hearing from you and, we're all excited for , lots of great, grapes this year.
Jim: Thanks for having me, Eric, and I hope your listeners reach out to us and let us know what they think we'd love to hear from 'em. So, thanks for having me on.
Eric: Thank you.
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