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Wine and Roses

At Galante Vineyards in Carmel, California, Jack Galante is a man who knows how to celebrate. And, as I found out, the celebrating is about more than the wines it is also about roses. Jack Galante ships beautiful rose petals to celebrations across the country.

I always seem to be drawn to processes that make good use of everything involved. I guess that's one of the reasons I'm so attracted to gardening. Nothing has to go to waste. This can apply to every aspect of gardening. Even to enjoying beautiful roses. Now, every industry has its by-products and the floral trade is no exception. When you're growing beautiful long stemmed roses for cutting, you have to wondered about some of the ones, like this one, that are a little past its prime.

No need to worry, there's a home for them as well. There's a big market for fresh rose petals. But this is nothing new. We've been using rose petals in celebrations since before Roman times. And one man who probably knows a lot about celebration is fine wine and rose connoisseur Jack Galante of Galante Winery and Vineyards in California. He has discovered a way to take the by-products of one industry and create an entirely new business. But it's not wine that we're talking about in this case.

Jack: Our main business is our winery business, of course; the vineyards came first and then the winery later. So we grow ultra premium Cabernet Sauvignon grapes and we specialize in Cabernet Sauvignon wines. The roses are really a compliment to the vineyards and the winery. About 1985, my dad started planting roses just around the vineyards to beautify the vineyards and he grew up in the old country and he saw these roses at the end of all the grapes because, as you know, roses used to be used as monitors for pests and mildew for the vineyards.

Allen: Sure.

Jack: So we started planting so many roses, and putting so much labor into them that we were giving them away as fast as possible that we decided to sell them. We grow about 90 varieties of roses right now. However, we don't necessarily advertise to customers that we are selling 90 varieties, what we sell the roses as is by color. So we help the end user, the customer, with what colors they want.

Allen: Now most of the roses you grow here are hybrid teas.

Jack: All of the roses we grow here are hybrid tea as a matter of fact, yes. We don't do any of the old roses. We find that they are absolutely gorgeous, as you know, but a little more difficult to ship and all. So we really specialized in hybrid tea roses. We run a lot of different events here at the property so we use a lot of our roses for the events. We started doing concerts here as well, in the summer we do quite a few concerts and we started using a lot of rose petals. As a matter of fact, at our concerts we use entire dance floors made of rose petals, on our Day of Wine and Roses we have rose petals everywhere.

Allen: Perfect!

Jack: So we found that there was a market for rose petals. Everybody thought these rose petals were beautiful. And so now I think we might be one of the only people who do ship rose petals all over the states for special events.

Allen: Now you think of a flower petal as being very perishable. How do you ship petals?

Jack: Well the rose petals, as a matter of fact, are quite hardy. And so literally when we come out and harvest the petals we do it mostly early in the morning, not too early if there's any dew on them because you don't want to harvest them wet.

Allen: Too much moisture would harbor disease.

Jack: Exactly. So when you package them it could create heat and it could create mold. They are also a product that you don't hold for a long time. When they are shipped they are used because they are used for special events.

Allen: Right. So once you get the petals boxed, Jack, what happens after that?

Jack: Well, the rose petals are boxed in 30-pound boxes with gel ice inside. And those, we charge about $100 per box plus shipping, we ship overnight to a destination. And then the people who receive them we instruct them, when they can, to put them in a cold or cool area, spread them out so rot doesn't start. And when they are ready to use them just spread them really just before they are going to be use, depending if they are going to be used inside or out. And enjoy it.

Allen: Yea, just celebrate.

Jack: Just celebrate. Absolutely.

Allen: That's great!