Fruit World is famous for its extraordinary Sky Ranch Mandarins, a clementine grown on farmer Bianca Kaprielian’s grandfather’s ranch, which sits atop one of the area’s tallest foothills and is named for its sweeping views of the San Joaquin Valley.
“The topsoil is less than two inches and then solid granite, with a very high mineral content,’ Bianca explains. “The flavor is out of this world. They are sweet but complex, with a sugar to acid balance that makes it interesting. I look forward to those every year.”
Bianca, 38, is the fourth generation to operate her family’s farm, which grows fantastic organic and conventional citrus in California’s central valley. Back in 2016, the marketing company that had been managing the family farm’s sales pulled out of the region. Bianca and her childhood friend CJ Buxman, who grew up on another multigenerational stone fruit farm across town, decided to join efforts and founded Fruit World to market and sell the fruit from theirs and other family farms in the region.
“Looking back, all roads led to home,” she told The FruitGuys Magazine. But she didn’t always think she would be a farmer.
“When it was time to go to college, my folks wanted me to explore what I wanted to be and find my passion,” Bianca said. “Back then, I didn’t think that ag was something that I loved, but the longer I was away from it, the more I realized that I wanted to get back into it.”
Fruit World has been working with The FruitGuys since about 2017. We feature their mandarins and navel oranges in our Northern California boxes in the winter, as well as their apricots and grapes in summer.
The Sky Ranch Mandarins won a recent blind taste test of three different mandarins by The FruitGuys norcal buyers. “They are just the best,” said Rebecca North, The FruitGuys Senior Buyer. “Bianca’s done it again.” Their short season, just a few weeks, adds to their sweetness.
After getting a degree in filmmaking on the east coast, Bianca found herself drawn to projects that centered on food, farmers, and agriculture. “I realized how much I missed the family farm.” She returned to California and completed an ecological horticulture apprenticeship at U.C. Santa Cruz and then worked for wholesaler Veritable Vegetable and Whole Foods before launching Fruit World.
When they lost their marketing company and main packing client in one go, Bianca’s dad called her. “My dad is a great farmer. He said my grandpa was ready to step back and this is a great opportunity for you. We hooked up with CJ and we moved,” she said. “My grandpa is in his nineties and I still call him for business advice.”
Fruit World manages about a thousand acres and additionally sources from and markets for eight neighboring family farm partners. Like Bianca, CJ also had studied a different field (computer engineering and accounting), but stepped into a leadership role in the family business when it was in crisis and has grown it.
“We’ll give you really great fruit that’s worth the price,” said Bianca. Family farmers that share FruitWorld’s values, such as Masamoto family farms and organic grape pioneer Pete Wolf, have joined them to broaden their market reach. “Our heart is in the right place. We take care of our customers. We’re open and transparent. We need customers that share our value and vision.”
Fruit World’s goal is to keep family farming thriving in the central valley into future generations. “I’m the most reluctant salesperson ever. All I want is for my family and my nieces and nephews and future generations to have this same opportunity.”