American farmers were devastated this year by the impacts of drastically fluctuating temperatures, the Midwest droughts, and Hurricane Sandy. America’s beloved grape juice, Welch’s, also has been threatened but is standing strong – in the vineyard and on the store shelf.
Although every growing season provides unique challenges, this year was particularly trying for Welch’s family farmers. The 2012 Concord grape crop was reduced by 30 percent, making it the smallest harvest since 1977. This unusually small crop demanded that the family farmers put exceptional care into their grapes and work tirelessly to collect the best fruit during harvest.
“The harvest time for each vineyard is determined by careful evaluation of the fruit,” comments Brad Irwin, Welch’s CEO. “All grapes must meet our high quality standards before they are accepted and pressed into juice. Even in a year as challenging as this, we rejected 2.4 million pounds of Concord grapes that didn’t meet our standards. We pride ourselves on the best quality grapes and juice, no matter what obstacles are faced.”
Welch’s relies on more than 1,000 family farmers in North America to grow the best Concord grapes and doesn’t source these grapes from anywhere else. Despite the small crop, the dedication of these farmers resulted in some exceptional fruit that meets Welch’s requirements.
“As a small family-farmer owned cooperative, we are constantly adapting to what Mother Nature sends our way,” remarks Irwin. “Thanks to generations of grape growing knowledge, coupled with investment in new farming practices and technology, we can consistently deliver delicious, quality products that consumers expect from us.”