Fruits a’plenty

    SHOPPER’S HAVEN More than 70 years since the Bisceglia brothers opened their first roadside fruit stand, Casa de Fruta is a tourist landmark. Photo: Robert Eliason

    When Clara Bisceglia Zanger inherited orchards along the Pacheco Valley in the 1940s, she encouraged her three sons—George, Joseph and Eugene—to use the land as a nice business venture.

    But no one could have predicted what that venture would become when her sons opened a cherry stand, becoming one of the country’s most unique and successful businesses.

    The families of Joseph and Eugene continue to operate the family business, Casa de Fruta, today. Seventy years after it first opened, its name is now synonymous with quality fruit, nuts and gifts. And with the addition of Casa de Wine, Casa de Sweets, a restaurant, an amusement area (Casa de Choo Choo and Carousel), the tourist landmark has evolved into a shoppers’ haven.

    “It just grew over the course of the years of the ’60s and ’70s,” says managing partner Suzan Slater.

    Located on Pacheco Pass Highway in Hollister, Casa de Fruta’s Fruit Stand is no longer just a stand but a fair competitor with any gourmet produce store.

    Growing slowly over the years, the fruit stand is still known for its fresh fruit, dried fruit and vegetables, but it now sells wine and has a wine tasting area and an extended area that includes a gift shop.

    There are also a variety of nuts for sale, Slater explains. But “variety” doesn’t really do Casa’s selection justice. Upon entering the Fruit Stand, shoppers will find mounds of nuts waiting to be scooped up into bags.

    “We have 10 varieties of almonds,” Slater says, including “seasoned, sweetened, salted, roasted, glazed.”

    There are also 15 varieties of cashews and pistachios, with such eclectic flavors as jalapeno and garlic, according to Slater.

    Those looking for more than fruit and nuts can find a wide selection of items in Casa’s shops, where visitors can check the whole family off their holiday lists.

    “We bring forward the different gift packs and the baskets—the larger selection at that time of year. And we also carry different themed gifts in the wine tasting room (Casa de Wine) for other items other than the gourmet gifts that we carry,” Slater says.

    Items found in Casa de Wine include hot sauces, pickled vegetables, olives, garlic, garlic-stuffed olives, barbecue sauces, marinades, jams, and jellies. Beautiful displays showcasing holiday decor, angels, cooking items and local sports team memorabilia are also available.

    And anyone with a sweet tooth will appreciate Casa de Sweets, where such popular items as traditional fudge, a variety of candies, holiday gift boxes and children’s toys can be found.

    The sweet shop also serves Santa Cruz’s Marianne’s ice cream, novelty pomegranate bars and Casa de Fruta’s nationally known pie, which was recently recognized in a USA Today 10 Best article for the best pie in California.

    Guests of Casa de Fruta will also be delighted to find its restaurant, shops and amusement areas all decked out for the holidays. Casa de Choo Choo, is also decorated along with its train, and there are Christmas tree displays and plenty of photo opportunities for the holidays as well. “And at night we have on all the lights on all of our buildings,” Slater adds.

    “There’s some different, unique items that you won’t find everywhere else, but you will find them here,” Slater says.
    Casa de Fruta is located at 10021 Pacheco Pass Highway in Hollister. Casa de Choo Choo and Carousel hours are Mon-Sun, 10am-4pm, weather permitting. For more information, and for holiday and regular store hours, visit casadefruta.com or call 408.842.7282.