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In many countries there are consumer protection and warranty laws that regulate the consumer’s rights to return something they purchased. Rights may last a few days (returns without needing a reason) a year or more (in case of defect).

But what do you do when it takes three or more years before you know what was delivered was not what you ordered? And during those years you have already put a great deal of work and effort into integrating that purchase into a large project?

Take for example the Turán (a.k.a. Agria) I ordered and planted 5 years ago. After three years I allowed all the vines I planted to bear fruit. And at that time the grape berries confirmed some prior considerations that something did not quite look right for some of these vines.

Two grape varieties, clearly different. Can you see the differences?

Two grape varieties, clearly different. Can you see the differences?

The obvious differences between the two examples above include:

Left image:

  1. Pea green berries
  2. Elongated or egg shape of the berries
  3. Green stems

Right Image:

  1. Red tint to berries
  2. Spherical berry shape
  3. Red stems

There were also differences in the leaves (not shown) between vines which gave me the initial suspicions, even before seeing the grapes, that some vines other than Turán were delivered in my order.

In the image above, the Turán grape berries are on the right. On the left is what I later determined to be Nero.

The final fruit at harvest of the two may look similar (but the Turán is clearly smaller and more spherical than the Nero):

Turán berry above, Nero berry below.

Turán berry above, Nero berry below.

But the real give away: Turán of course has its distinctive red juice and pulp, and Nero does not.

White juice Nero (upper left) versus red juice Turán (lower right).

White juice Nero (upper left) versus red juice Turán (lower right).

About 10% of the Turán I ordered ended up being in fact Nero.

How did this happen? I have some theories, which include:

  1. Young grapes are harvested and delivered when dormant, and not having a proper separation between different plantings of each variety means the wrong ones were inadvertently picked and delivered. This theory would be an example of sloppy business practices.
  2. Sloppy bundling in the field when harvested, ending up getting a mix in the bundles. This indicates some lacking of quality control.
  3. Not having enough Turán to fill my order, so substituted Nero instead (without telling me). This theory is either an example of deceitful business, or simply (from some of my personal experience in Hungary) “Meh…. they look similar, good enough“. Either of course is still not acceptable.
  4. They confused part of my order with someone else’s order. Also an example of sloppy business.

So what did I do?

Not much I could do after 3 years. I ripped out most of the Nero (kept a few plants as eating grapes and for “lets see what they produce” testing), and ordered more Turán (from a different distributor ) and replanted the new Turán in the 4th year. The new plantings will not have berries until next year (this is their second year), but from the leaves alone I can see they are all clearly Turán.

Moral of the story: No place is perfect. Turán was a new grape variety to me, so I did not know what to look for in the leaves to verify the first year if I actually got what I ordered. Now I know better, have the experience needed, and could check the second order. So I just considered it all a learning experience (education tax?) for me. Learning is a life long process. And finally, even with one bad experience, one can also find honest and competent businesses to deliver what is actually ordered.

C’est la vie.