“People around here are so generous with their knowledge”

I am back from day one of the Know a California Farmer Farm Fresh Tour.  What a day! Here are a few highlights!

Our ride.

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Thank you to Cal Poly’s Dr. Ben Swan for driving! We had to wait for a top secret Honda commercial to be filmed, but eventually, we made it to our first destination!

First stop: Halter Ranch Vineyard and Winery. What a beautiful facility! We toured the vineyard and learned about the winemaking process and barrel cleaning (below).

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Recently retired, vineyard farmer, Mitch Wyss, taught us about growing wine grapes. Here are a few of my favorite quotes from Mitch:

  • “The best fertilizer is a farmer’s footsteps.”
  • “You do have bad bugs but you also have the good bugs… it’s all about the balance.”
  • “What we are trying to do here is make our vines last a hundred years.”
  • “When I give [the wine grapes] to the winemaker, I say, ‘Don’t screw them up.'”
  • “We spend a lot of time trying to convince people that wine is not something heartless like Coca Cola.”

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Second Stop: Pasolivo

This olive farm creates its own olive oil on site and provides some delicious tastings. Who knew honey tasted so great with olive oil? Salt mixes well too.

“We’re really proud of our oils… Our oil was ranked in the top ten oils in the world in 2008 at the biggest international tasting in Europe.”

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Third Stop: Negranti Dairy and Creamery

YUM! We got to taste the ice cream and see where the sheep are milked and where the ice cream is made. Alexis and Wade Negranti faced a little criticism when they first decided to start their own sheep milk dairy and creamery.

Wade’s favorite response to such criticism is, “You can make fun of me now, but you can’t ride on my jet.”

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Fourth Stop: Thomas Hill Organics

Joe Thomas showed us around their organic farm before we headed to the family restaurant for dinner. Joe  was a fine arts teacher in LA and his wife, Debbie, worked in sales before they moved to the central coast and began farming. Joe said he learned a lot from talking to farmers at the local markets.

“People around here are so generous with their knowledge,” Joe said.

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We also met Joe and Debbie’s dog, Albert.

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I learned a lot and met some incredible people (and animals). I can’t wait to see what’s in store for tomorrow!

Until next time, Jennifer


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