Van Well Nursery observed its 70th anniversary at the end of the 2016 season. The nursery was founded in 1946 when Pete Van Well, Sr. “bought an old mule and 10 acres of open land in East Wenatchee.”
Pete Van Well, Sr., had been nursery superintendent for a prominent nursery firm in Wenatchee, WA, and had established an enviable reputation in that trade. So, Pete Van Well, Sr., with the help of sons, Jack and Joe, set out some apple grafts at his new operation. A year later, the trio was making peach and pear grafts in addition to the apple grafts and was ready to deliver 23,000 finished fruit trees to commercial orchardists in the area.
The years progressed and the nursery business grew. Pete was president and was joined not only by Jack and Joe, but also by three other sons, Pete, Jr., Tom, and Dick. Pete Van Well Sr. died in 1973, and his sons, Jack and Joe, have passed, too. Tom Van Well has retired, but Pete Van Well, Jr. and Dick Van Well remain involved in the company. The third generation of the Van Well family also is now actively involved in the business with Suzanne Van Well as the Canadian subsidiary manager. Chris Van Well is the scion wood selection, inventory, and shipping manager; Joe Adams is in charge of the company’s inventory and information systems; Ric Van Well handles orchard and nursery production operations, and Pete Van Well, II handles the company’s business and sales and serves as marketing manager.
The company operates 120 acres of orchard and about 700 acres of nursery stock in three different Columbia Basin areas, Wenatchee, Quincy, and Moses Lake. Its corporate headquarters are in East Wenatchee where it also has storage capacity for over one million fruit trees.
Over the past 70 years Van Well Nursery has been responsible for the testing, propagation, patenting, introduction, and marketing of many notable fruit tree varieties particularly, early on, ‘Red Delicious’ sports such as ‘Red King,’ ‘Oregon Spur,’ ‘Scarlet Spur,’ ‘Super Chief’ and ‘Adams Apple.’ As the fruit industry turned away from ‘Red Delicious,’ Van Well sought out other exclusive apple varieties such as ‘Auvil Early Fuji,’ ‘Gale Gala,’ ‘Red Jonaprince,’ ‘Redfield Red Braeburn,’ and ‘Red Cameo.’ The list of new apple, cherry, pear, peach, and apricot varieties continues to grow as the company seeks to identify, produce, and market the needs of the next generation of commercial orchardists.