The Lemon Twist also rises: From the ashes to fresh strawberries and more...
Once a lonely spot on the wide open road from nowhere to far away, the Lemon Twist Fruit Stand has weathered fires, frost and floods over the last 30-plus years, only to emerge in 2013 with fresh local strawberries and much, much more.
The legend that is the Del Dios Highway farm stand began in 1981 with two recent college graduates, best friends Katie Shull and Trudy Tunstall. They figured the scenic two-lane road from Escondido to Rancho Santa Fe would be the perfect spot for local fruit and fresh produce.
(Photos: Kaie Shull et al at this used to be the Lemon Twist after the 2007 fire.)
The surrounding area featured significant citrus production, including world class lemons and oranges. The Shull family, as well as the McKrinks on the maternal side, ran significant citrus acreage, later opening packing and growing operations still in business at nearby Vista.
The San Dieguito River Valley that runs alongside the stand has flooded several times. Cold weather, on occasion, has hurt the nearby citrus farms. All that was trivial, however, compared to the 2007 Witch Creek Fire that raced down Del Dios Gorge to Lusardi Preserve utterly devastating the small wood farm stand structure along with anything that stood in its path.
With only a small, fragmented outer gate still standing, Robin Shull, the 30 year old co-owner and manager, and family, set out to rebuild the Lemon Twist, going bigger and better, to the delight of an ever-growing number of highway travelers. The reconstructed stand is several times larger, featuring expanded facilities and offerings.
Since it's strawberry season in North County, dammit, the fresh crop of locally grown berries are going into everything from chocolate confections made with fresh daily fruit to salads, desserts and kitchen tables from hither to yon. The Lemon Twist has created a national name for itself in this regard with chocolate-dipped strawberries, and other fruits and gourmet products shipped from its online store.
Also available: Seasonal organic produce an citrus; gifts, local gourmet items, fruit and gift baskets; flowers, orchid, plans and succulent gardens; local, raw, organic Rancho Santa Fe honey, Talavera pottery, garden art, fountains and statuary.
The Lemon Twist is at 8175 Del Dios Highway. It's open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday to Sunday. The website features additional information and online orders visit http://lemontwistfruitstand.com/ . The stand can be reached by phone at (858) 756-0826.