Ah, Christmas. The season of searching for a gift for everyone you’ve ever met. It has to be perfect — something that captures the essence of your relationship, their personality and hopefully won’t find itself in the garage sale this summer or regifted at the company Christmas party.
Forget buying yet another candle, ornament or other dust-collector. This year, make everyone’s holiday bright with the gift of food.
Thankfully, there’s no better place to live than the Yakima Valley when looking for great specialty food products. Central Washington’s plethora of produce has created a robust secondary market of jams, jellies, chocolates, oils and other goodies inspired by that produce.
And while you could travel from Ellensburg to Prosser hand-selecting products for your holiday gift baskets from each individual producer, you could save yourself a lot of time by heading over to the Washington Fruit place and Gift Shop at Barrett Orchards on Pecks Canyon Road in Yakima.
The red barn shop has been open for eight years and carries more than 100 specialty food products made in the Yakima Valley, and about 80 percent of its shelf space is devoted to products made in Washington. The rest come from Oregon and Idaho.
“We know that our state and the Northwest have amazing products, so I search them out,” says owner Cheryl Barrett, who is constantly expanding her inventory and looking for new products. This year, Barrett Orchards began selling Big Papa’s Southern Sauce, a line of barbecue sauces made in the Yakima Valley, and Craic Honey Co., a raw honey company based in Naches.
They join the already expansive line of products — Chukar Cherries from Prosser, Mick’s Peppouri jellies, Winegar’s ice cream from Ellensburg, even Grapples, the apple that tastes like a grape — and Barrett Orchards’ own line of sugar-free spreads and fresh fruit.
“It’s everything you can imagine,” Barrett says.
The variety makes the shop a perfect spot for people looking to send a taste of the Yakima Valley for Christmas.
Throughout the holiday season, Barrett Orchards’ employees are busy creating gift boxes and shipping packages all over the United States. In addition to creating boxes filled with products from the store, the shop also ships boxes of fresh apples.
Each year, they ship hundreds of boxes of apples, Barrett says. Each box is customizable and can include an assortment of Fuji, Pink Lady, Honey Crisp and Cameo apples. Or customers can create a mix of apples and other products from the shop.
“If you came in and said I want to ship a double layer of apples, but they’d really like a package of Chuckar Cherries, we’ll pull out a couple of apples and add a package of cherries,” she says. “We customize pretty much every box. Somebody always wants something else.”
Barrett Orchards sends out shipments twice a week on a three-day delivery to keep the fruit fresh. Customers who want to ensure Christmas delivery should place their orders by Tuesday, Barrett says. However, the shop will ship boxes through the end of the year.
The orchard can ship anywhere, with prices ranging from about $40 for a small box of fruit to around $90 for a large box containing 32 pieces of fruit.
In addition to the fruit boxes, Barrett Orchards also offers custom or pre-made gift baskets and decorative boxes, for pick-up or shipping. Barrett says all the shop employees are trained to help customers build a custom gift that fits the personality of the recepient, and the giver’s budget.
“We can do any price range,” she says. “I’m a firm believer in you can have an amazing gift and not spend a lot.”
Barrett says she sees a lot of customers come in searching for products that highlight the Valley at Christmas.
“That’s one thing we really appreciate about our clients and customers, they really do support local,” she says.
• Savannah Tranchell can be reached at 509-577-7752 or firstname.lastname@example.org.