Last year around this time I posted a short piece titled "It's Summer in February" about peak of summer fruit from Chile. I wrote that some of our favorite deals on the produce team are those where we know the grower and have seen the fruit in production across multiple seasons.Time flies, it's a whole year later and it's summer in February once again. It may be winter in the States, but we'll soon be enjoying a taste of summer from a grower that we love. As soon as we get through the holidays each year, members of the produce team start asking each other: "When will we see Juan Miguel's nectarines? Are we on track for February 10?" As February gets closer Juan Miguel's "nectos" become a regular topic, and by the time the fruit arrives in stores we're beyond ready for the taste of sunshine.
Happily, we're featuring nectarines from Juan Miguel Errazuriz again this year. Juan Miguel is a second generation grower, whose family has been involved in farming for the past 250 years. Errazuriz traveled the world for three years to research horticultural practices and technology before deciding on a type of fertigation system that supplies water and nutrients directly to the trees' roots. Now, Errazuriz is one of only a few growers in Chile who uses drip irrigation to control the trees' root systems and maximize flavor.In addition to nectarines, Chile's fertile Rancagua region produces grapes, peaches and plums. The Rancagua region is much like California's central Valley in reverse, set between the cool and rainy south and the hot, dry northern regions of Chile. Well below the equator in the Southern Hemisphere, Chile is in production at precisely the same time that the US is out - meaning there's little competition between the two. Rather, the two countries' seasons complement one another and many stonefruit growers work in partnership across both hemispheres.
In addition to Juan Miguel's nectarines, we're excited this year about old fashioned cling peaches from Mauricio Cuevas. Cuevas grows and harvests modern varieties of old fashioned yellow peaches and harvests them at the height of the season. He's focused on a growing philosophy based on "flavor and sensation" that prioritizes quality at every step, from cultivation to packing to transportation and storage. Expect to see these lightly colored aromatic peaches in stores later this month and into March.We're proud to feature these summer fruits from the South this winter. At the same time we're eagerly looking forward to summer here in the North when we'll have many more stonefruit offerings from more growers that we love.