Raisin growing and production methods have remained unchanged for growing and harvesting of grapes to raisins for more than a century. These time-worn practices involve hiring thousands of seasonal workers to perform countless hours of backbreaking labor, removing bunches of green grapes and laying them on paper trays where they dry in the scorching direct sunlight, amid potentially contaminating elements. After harvest, these paper trays, in inconceivable numbers, are burned, sending choking clouds of smoke into the valley air. The raisins, having collected a significant amount of sand and grit must undergo skin damaging, wasteful, redundant shaker and wash steps to bring the quality and food safety to an acceptable level.
When the green grapes are roughly removed from the vines, the skins are often damaged, causing the berries to leak their juices, making them sticky. As they are dried in the open elements, moisture continues to leak and the cracks in the raisins’ skin become more pronounced, making the finished raisins less than suitable for use as ingredients in baking and dry ingredient combinations such as trail mixes and cereals. However, through the early advancements in the mechanization of raisin production was born the Overhead Trellis Systems or Dried on the Vine (DOV) method of growing and harvesting raisins, which took advantage of benefits of mechanical harvesting without succumbing to the detriments of damaged, burnt fruit.
In 1993, Lion Raisins began farming the overhead trellis Natural Seedless Grapes to be made into Dried on the Vine raisins (DOV). Since then, Lion has become the largest and most innovative grower of the DOV system. The method Lion uses is called the “Quad DOV Trellis System” and the patent (US Patent No. 5,711,109) is owned by the Lion family.
Lion’s Made in the Shade DOV raisins are superior in practically every way to the traditional paper-tray-dried DOG raisins.
Listed below are some of the reasons. Our Made in the Shade raisins…
· Eliminate the need for paper trays which are burned annually, saving our precious valley air from the harmful pollutants
· Contain no embedded stems
· Contain no embedded sand
· Contain no embedded grit
· Contain no stones
· Have come into no human or animal contact
· Are far more friendly to the labor force that would have to perform arduous and painful work in the triple-digit heat that many Americans refuse to do
· Dramatically reduce excessive water consumption by employing a canopy of grape leaves, cutting the 12-foot of exposed open space found in a standard vineyard, in half. In doing so, we increase production and lower the units of water needed per acre.
· Do not lose moisture to transfer when combined with dry ingredients like cereals and trail mixes
Bruce Lion says all of this all adds up to a far more people- and environment- friendly food source as compared to tired traditional methods from another century when these concerns were less fully understood.