Is Allied Grape Growers strictly a Central Valley association?

Allied markets wine grapes from regions throughout the state, from Fresno to Lodi to the Central Coast to the North Coast. A large portion of Alliedís business is in the San Joaquin Valley including Lodi, however, roughly 70% of the Stateís winegrapes come from these interior regions, so Alliedís representation of those regions is proportional to the statewide crop.

Will my grapes be marketed on their own merit or will they be combined with other lots?

Under "vintnerís preference" a memberís grapes are not combined with another member's grapes during the contracting process. Contracts are formed for specific vineyards with specific terms. However, concentrate and/or commodity grapes out of the Central Valley such as Thompson Seedless, French Colombard, Grenache, Rubired, etc. may be combined under larger "base supply contracts" in which case there are no specific vineyards identified, but simply an obligation to provide a specified amount of tonnage to the processor. Under all situations, Allied is constantly evaluating the current "mix" of grapes to perform the best marketing possible, even if that means packaging or combining separate lots from various categories. The bottom line is that we want to maximize the return to all members through the most effective marketing possible. Quality growers are never compromised to subsidize a grower not meeting quality standards.

Is Allied Grape Growers a grape broker?

Allied Grape Growers is a grower-owned cooperative. However, some of the services offered are similar to that of a broker. Allied matches buyers and sellers much like a grape broker, but Allied goes beyond that. Since Allied takes title to the grapes, we form the contracts, are responsible for payment collection and distribution, and help protect the contractual rights of the grower. We are also owned by, and work exclusively for, the grower.

Can I form contracts with vintners for the sale of my grapes that are signed in Allied?

When a grower signs a membership agreement with Allied Grape Growers, he/she effectively transfers title of the crop for contracting purposes to Allied. Allied then immediately begins working the grapes into a marketing plan and forms contacts accordingly. If growers were to pursue their own contracting, double contracting could easily occur. Growers are never discouraged from keeping direct dialogue with vintners however, and if the opportunity arises through dialogue to initiate a sale, Allied should be notified so follow up on the sale can occur through the association.

Does it cost anything to be an Allied member?

There is a service charge to growers based on gross grape receipts. This fee has historically been 1% but may be higher depending on the association's operating budget on an annual basis. Allied also charges the vintners a small fee upon the sale of grapes. As long as operating costs are held below the total collected between growers and vintners, the growers receive the difference back in the form of an equity allocation. In years where Allied can use the vintners percentage to cover its operating expenses, the growers receive an essentially cost-free service.

Do I have to "buy in" to be a member?

At this time there are no membership fees collected other than the service charge on gross receipts.

What is the term of Alliedís membership agreement?

A three-year evergreen is the standard term of membership. Evergreen means that the membership will continue on a three-year interval basis until notice is given to terminate. Allied also offers the opportunity to sign one-year agreements based on the growers desire to do such and Alliedís ability to market those grapes on a one year basis. If a grape contract is formed beyond the term of the membership agreement then a "bridge agreement" has to be signed guaranteeing delivery during the term of the underlying contract.

I am a Thompson grower who periodically makes raisins. How would this affect my Allied membership if I signed up?

When a membership agreement is signed with Allied Grape Growers, the growerís first obligation is to fill the associationís grape needs resulting from supply contracts. Annually, Alliedís Board of Directors has entertained requests to market Thompsons to raisin/dehydrator outlets if there appears to be the opportunity to do so without shorting crush contracts. This program has traditionally been offered, but is always subject to the approval of the Board. Before a Thompson grower signs grapes into Allied he/she should be certain they want to "go green" in the future. If there is any doubt, a one-year agreement may be the way to go.

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