INTERVIEW IWTH MICHELE BERA
How did you get started in the stone fruit business?
Our family has been farming fruit in the Vacaville / Winters area since the 1930s. My husband’s family emigrated from Spain and came to this area, and began the family farming business. It has been a passion of ours for decades.
We decided to raise older varieties, primarily because of the flavor and quality as compared to more modern varieties that are developed for non-flavor characteristics like, shelf life, size, color, etc. Our customer base really appreciates this. The older varieties are harder to raise, and we face a lot of challenges with these varieties that we wouldn’t face with more modern hybrids. With that said, we have developed a strong following and this has provided for a good niche for us in direct marketing as well as our wholesale business.
What do you love most about your work?
Interaction with our customers. It is very satisfying to deliver these products to our customers and to receive the level of appreciation that we do year over year. Farming is something that we are passionate about, and there is something very rewarding about being able to start with bare land and produce wonderful products that are in high demand.
What’s your go-to stone fruit recipe this time of year?
I don’t really have a stone fruit recipe during the season, I mostly just eat fresh as I don’t have a lot of time for baking. I would say we do love to grill peaches, etc. and just serve with fresh whipped cream or ice cream.
How does the Napa Farmers Market support your business?
The Napa farmers markets are our anchor. We have gone to these markets for decades and developed a cult-like following of customers, restaurants, wineries and local stores. The Napa markets obviously create a lot of demand for our products, but the markets also help us to develop our planting strategy and ongoing farming practices when it comes to raising fruit. We don’t do any marketing, it is all word of mouth, customer to customer in many cases.
With such a seasonal specialty, how do you fill your time when there are no stone fruit ready to sell?
I have worked many different jobs during my off season over the years. The last two, I enjoyed working in the Produce Department at the Davis Co Op (specialty grocery store) in Davis.
*Photo by Bob McClenahan Photography