The brand is creating innovative versions of its juices to sell to winemakers.

By Mike Pomranz
August 20, 2018
jatrax/Getty Images

Welch’s is one of America’s best-known grape brands—and the company’s own founding story positions it opposite to winemaking. “In 1869, Dr. Thomas Bramwell Welch pasteurized Concord grape juice to create a non-alcoholic alternative to wine for his church,” Welch’s website explains. The two varieties of grapes the co-op run company specializes in—Concord and Niagara—aren’t necessarily great for wine anyway. However, Welch’s has been expanding its forays into wine; though don’t expect Welch’s brand vino on liquor store shelves.

Launched in 2014, Welch’s Global Ingredients Group is a division of the company that essentially looks for new grape-related business opportunities. One major example is wine, and the brand has been talking up a recently developed “de-characterized” version of its of its Niagara white grape juice that it says is perfect for blending with traditional grape varieties when fermenting wine.

“We are looking a lot more at the winery industry,” Welch’s Zach Longhini told the site FoodIngredientsFirst. “There is a lot going on with this industry which is a growing market and we have a very compelling advantage when it comes to wine in that juice grapes tend to sell at much lower price than wine grapes so we can utilize that as not only as a way to continue to diversify our customer base but also to help the wineries become more cost competitive and efficient on their own as well.”

To put it more simply, Welch’s juice is a great way for wineries to save money. Yes, plenty of wine drinkers might balk at that prospect, but one of the wine industry’s longstanding secrets is that many inexpensive wines have to keep costs down somewhere and thanks to lax labeling rules on revealing everything from grape varieties to additives means that, though it’s not always Welch’s that your wine is spiked with, plenty of wines aren’t necessarily as pure as you may be led to believe.

As FoodIngredientsFirst further explains, Welch’s Global Ingredient Group also supplies its Concord grapes as a filler for certain red wines that might benefit from the juice grape’s well-known characteristics. But as is the case with its new Niagara offering, Welch’s sees more opportunity in wine than simply selling their juice as is. “We’re excited to be expanding our capabilities,” Kevin Kilcoyne, VP & General Manager, Global Ingredients Group at Welch’s, was quoted as saying. “This will be an important market for us going forward, and we have further winery-specific innovations in the pipeline.”

Advertisement