Frutera Aguas Blancas is not your average Chilean grape grower. While their highly sought-after storage Thompsons set them apart in the North American market, their leaders differentiate them on their home turf. Managed by two sisters, Catalina and Maria Jose Cohen, this Oppy partner brings a unique approach to grape production.
Aguas Blancas was established in 1986 by Arturo Cohen, Catalina and Maria Jose’s father, who initially produced stone fruit and kiwifruit in addition to grapes. In recent years, the 140-hectare farm located in the Chacabuco Valley has evolved to focus primarily on Thompsons―producing about 200,000 cases annually―complemented by a few hectares of black seedless. The property includes a packing house that has an 8,000-case-per-day capacity and controlled atmosphere cold storage.
“The temperate climate, deep and loamy soils and groundwater which originates from the Andes Mountains enables us to grow the best premium product in the region, and one of the best in the country,” said Maria Jose, financial and administration director.
“We enjoy the whole process of growing the grapes with people who are passionate about farming,” she continued. “After the harvest comes the professionalism of the cooling team, then the creativity of the exports and the relationships with our buyers. At the end you can see the grapes on the shelf of a supermarket looking really beautiful and tasting delicious many weeks after the harvest. It is a miracle of nature with so many people who have worked to make it real.”
Between the climate and the growing practices, Aguas Blancas is well-equipped to export “storage” grapes, which fill an important niche in our market. These late-season grapes are popular for their quality and because they help bridge the Chilean green grape season into the availability of fruit from Mexico and California.
“The peak season for us is March, but our customers’ sales begin in May,” Catalina said. “Growing grapes makes us happy, but producing and exporting our high quality product makes us proud. It is gratifying to receive very positive feedback from our customers.”