THE FAMILY AND BUSINESS:
For 84 years, B & R Farms, LLC has grown and processed Blenheim apricots on their ranch in Hollister, California near the central coast. After all this time, the business is still a family owned and operated business today. The 3rd generation Jim Rossi and his wife Mari run the business with 4th generation, son Brian, while their other sons, Philip and Scott help occasionally.
(Bottom left to right: The Rossi Family: Mari, Jim, Elsie. Top left to right: Brian, Scott, Julie, Phil)
(Older photos: Top- Filice & Bozzo wedding photo of Elsie's parents, Bottom- Emil Rossi, Jim's dad & Elsie's husband, working in the orchard)
The matriarch, Elsie Rossi, was a constant face at weekly Farmers' Markets telling everyone about their wonderful dried Blenheim apricots. She sold at markets from the Bay Area to Santa Barbara for 20+ years but is now retired. “I started cutting apricots on my grandpa’s ranch when I was five. I love this life and wouldn’t trade it for anything!” She took time to show her great grandchildren about these apricots so they can become the 5th generation to run the family business.
Over time, the business has gone from selling from the back of a car to selling pallets of this dried stone fruit across the nation and around the world!
Their business philosophy is simple, “Give our best…to our apricots, to our customers, to the products we offer and to the community we call home.” says Mari.
THE BLENHEIM APRICOT:
It is thought that this stone fruit originated from the gardens of England’s Blenheim Palace, but is now only commercially grown in California. Grandpa Frank and Jim’s father; Emil, chose this valley for planting their orchards because of the ideal conditions available in San Benito County- its rich soil, cool mornings and warm afternoons. Located 45 minutes from the Monterey Bay, the coastal breezes cool the area well, especially during hot summer days.
While the trees are tended and the business is open for wholesale and retail customers year round, the harvest occurs mid summer where 100+ acres of Blenheim apricots make this farm buzzing with daily activity of picking, processing, drying and packing the years crop. They produce various grades of apricots along with their wonderful savory and sweet selections of preserves, toppings, chutney and cinnamon spread; all made from time-tested family recipes. These products are made from the DRIED Blenheim (not fresh, as some others do), which produces a fabulous, intense apricot flavor hard to find anywhere else.
There are other apricots, but those “in the know” choose Blenheim apricots. In a Sunset Magazine article about B & R Farms Blenheim apricots (June 2007), “It’s not the most perfect-looking apricot, the Blenheim. Its thin skin sometimes has a greenish hue. Being unusually delicate, it is often slightly bruised. None of this really matters. Because inside, it’s the deep orange of a setting sun, with a silky texture and a taste so rich and tangy-sweet, it makes ordinary apricots difficult to take seriously.”
The family and staff of B & R Farms take great pride in their dried apricots, offering them to you and the world to enjoy. “We Dry Our Best”… so you can enjoy the best!
San Benito County Chamber of Commerce
Hollister Downtown Association
San Benito County Farm Bureau
National Association for the Specialty Food Trade, Inc.
California Women for Agriculture
SBC Chamber’s Ag Business of the Year- 2007 & 2011
Ag Against Hunger’s 2012 Ag Woman of the Year- Mari Rossi
Click on below to watch a video of the Blenheim apricot summer harvest and the owners.