Budding Entrepreneur Turns Love Of Pears Into Specialty Food Business
When Susan Knapp decided to try country life, she moved to a mountaintop in Lake County, California,
north of Napa Valley. There, walnut trees and pear orchards surrounded Knapp and her prolific garden.
There she fell in love… with pears.
From her neighbor's pear orchard, the gourmet cook indulged in her new passion. She created Cinnamon
Pear Jelly, which earned top prizes at county and state fairs. After four years in the country she moved
to Danville in the San Francisco Bay Area but she made the drive back to Lake County every year at harvest
time to pick up several hundred pounds of Bartlett Pears. Susan would then make her prized jelly and give
it to her co-workers at Christmas time each year.
Nine years ago at harvest time her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Needless to say the pears
were abandoned as she took care of her mother. At Christmas time her co-workers came to her office excited to
receive their Cinnamon Pear Jelly only to walk away disappointed that she did not make any that year. Susan
was surprised at the long faces and the disappointment they expressed. With mom completing treatment and on
the mend she went to the Fancy Food Show in January to see what was available in the marketplace. To her
surprise there was nothing made with pears.
Eight years ago she established her own business, Aunt Sue's. Country girl turned pear queen and budding entrepreneur. “Nobody was using pears then,” she added, praising the flavor and nutritional value of her favorite fruit and so she did. A year and a half ago she quit her corporate day job. Today she operates A Perfect Pear from Napa Valley , the only pear-focused gourmet condiment company in the country. She has an elegant new label, two full-time employees, a warehouse full of fast-selling condiments and a mind that continues to churn out new flavor combinations.
Other offerings from A Perfect Pear include award-winning Pear Chipotle Grill Sauce, Cinnamon Pear Maple Syrup, Pear Vinegar, Spicy Ginger Pear Mustard and, of course, blue-ribbon Cinnamon Pear Jelly. Sixteen products from the 20-product line are Kosher certified. “Our main objective for all our products is to help people create quick, healthy and delicious meals,” Knapp said.
Susan explains, “Thanks to the mild temperatures in California , we have access to superior produce year round.” After eight years she continues to grow the line with the constant focus on quality and unique flavors. Most of the ingredients used are organic, always all-natural with delicious flavors that have customers coming back for more and eagerly awaiting the next new creations.
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