Special New Fruit Licensing (SNFL), a subsidiary of Muñoz Group that specialises in developing and licensing new varieties of table grape, has completed its long-awaited purchase of the grape varietal series known as Vitis.
The varieties, as well as an associated international breeding programme, were all up for sale following the recent liquidation of Vitis Limited, a joint venture in which SNFL and South African exporter Colors – now no longer operational – had a 50 per cent share.
Vitis was originally set up back in 2006 in order to purchase a breeding programme belonging to Shachar Karniel, a renowned grape grower and breeder based in Israel who at the time was working for a company called Grapeco.
Karniel subsequently went on to set up another grape breeding business called Grapa Varieties, and was responsible for developing the Arra series of varieties on behalf of Agriculture Research & Development, a subsidiary of the US-based Giumarra Vineyards Corporation.
The original Vitis programme, meanwhile, has, according to SNFL, a number of outstanding table grape varieties including K2, which has already been planted commercially in Spain.
Other selections, such as the late-season white seedless variety G5, together with early reds and early whites which are about to be launched commercially, are also in the company’s portfolio.
As SNFL explained, Vitis has been breeding its own varieties in South Africa, Egypt and Spain since 2008, using the original Vitis material it bought from Grapeco as well as other unique, highly flavoured varieties that include another set called the Sheehan Genetics collection.
As Duncan Macintyre, chairman of SNFL Group, explained, all of the seedlings coming out of this new breeding programme have undergone evaluation since 2010 in South Africa and continue to show “exceptional promise”, with 15 selections showing “very great potential” to become commercial varieties.
“The Vitis varieties have been in the background for a long period of time and we are now delighted to be able to add them to the already proven and exciting portfolio of Sheehan Genetics varieties available from SNFL, as the two programmes will complement each other very well,” he commented.