As you enter Bertuccio’s Market in Hollister, a cornucopia of the best in locally produced foods is displayed in front of you. There are bins filled with fruit and vegetables, both fresh and dried, as well as refrigerated cases with farm-fresh milk, eggs and beef.
Items from small vendors, including MocaBee’s Honey, Craze and Tourist Hat Coffees, Foustman’s Sausage, Claravale Farms milk, Oils of Paicines, Wise Goat Organics, and That Garlic Stuff, vie for space on the shelves.
The market was founded in the 1960s, but Bertuccio’s farms and orchards date back to the 1920s. Manager Grant Hughes, who came to work at Bertuccio’s in 2019, balances the classic inventory that built the business—Blenheim apricots, walnuts and organically grown vegetables—with a recently introduced line of jams, jellies and preserves bottled under the Bertuccio’s label. Since Hughes began managing the store, Bertuccio’s has added about 30 new local vendors and more than 175 local products.
“The first time I walked in, I saw how adorable this store is and what potential it has,” he said. “It is amazing to see how people support local products. They are so adamant about keeping their small community that we have people coming here first on their way to the grocery store to pick up local products rather than what they get at the chain stores.”
One of the major draws to the store is the freshness of the produce, all from local farms and orchards.
“The non-independent grocery stores are going to have every fruit and vegetable that is out there,” Hughes said. “But it might not taste good because it is not in season. Chain groceries pack their produce in ice to make it last longer. Our cilantro, on the other hand, was picked fresh yesterday. People know when asparagus season hits, we are going to have asparagus and it is going to be fresh and gorgeous.”
Regular customer Carlos Cañada, who is also the director of food and beverage at Paicines Ranch, says the quality of the dried beans and dried fruit is exceptional.
“I make granola with the dried fruits and I make walnut and other nut butters,” he said. “And I eat a lot of the nuts myself. It is a must-stop for me all the time and there are always so many great finds here.”
As Hughes walks around the store pointing out what he carries from San Juan Bautista, Hollister, Paicines and Panoche, there is an obvious sense of pride in presenting what San Benito County produces.
“I think I have tried everything here at least twice,” he said. “And I think what we carry is the best of the best. I feel this is a community-based store and I think that the focus on local things has tripled our business since I started here.”
Products of Bertuccio’s Market
Apple Butter (16.5oz, $7.99) I have fond memories of the apple butter my grandmother made and I had forgotten how good it is. Sort of a cross between applesauce and apple pie filling, this thick and sumptuous treat is perfect for spreading on pancakes, perhaps with a dash of cinnamon.
Royal Blenheim Apricot Jam (16oz, $9.99) No food says “San Benito County” more than Blenheim apricots, and few products demonstrate the same flexibility. This jam is sweet and tangy, with a bright, vivid taste that enhances whatever you put on it. Great out of the jar on dinner rolls or scooped onto ice cream, my favorite thing to do is warm it up with a little hot mustard—Chinese or German—and use it as a sauce with grilled chicken.
Cinnamon Pear Preserves (17.5oz, $7.99) Recently added to their line, I had never had cinnamon pear preserves before. The initial sweetness of the pears gives way to the warmth of the cinnamon; both blend smoothly for an irresistible taste.
Chili Lemon Toasted Corn (16 oz., $4.29) I am a sucker for these and they are a favorite to bring to work. The blast of flavors and the crunch of the corn make them almost compulsively munchable.
Raspberry Rhubarb Spread (16.5 oz., $8.99) I have only had strawberry rhubarb before and this is a nice change. The bite of the raspberries adds an edge that strawberries don’t have—more assertive and much less cloying. This is one of the “no sugar added” products, drawing sweetness from fruit juices. It’s a nice change and would go well with yogurt.
BenitoLink thanks our underwriters, Hollister Super and Windmill Market, for helping to expand the Eat, Drink, Savor series and give our readers the stories that interest them. Hollister Super (two stores in Hollister) and Windmill Market (in San Juan Bautista) support reporting on the inspired and creative people behind the many delicious food and drink products made in San Benito County. All editorial decisions are made by BenitoLink.