Long Meadow Ranch Releases 2002 Vintage
Prato Lungo and Napa Valley Select Extra Virgin Olive Oils
June, 2003, St. Helena, CA
The 2002-vintage Prato Lungo ultra premium, extra virgin, estate grown, produced and bottled olive oil has been released by Long Meadow Ranch Winery. With an acidity of .10 percent, ten times below the 1.0-percent-or-less standard required for the extra-virgin designation, the handcrafted oil presents a fresh nose with green grass, wheat, green apple, and a touch of citrus. The entry into the mouth is silky smooth with a total lack of greasi-ness. The fresh clean flavors and peppery aftertaste reinforce the oil's role as the perfect condiment or finishing oil for fresh vegetables.
Long Meadow Ranch's restored 120 year-old historic orchards provide the fruit for the Prato Lungo, which means "long meadow" in Italian. Acclaimed by noted international olive oil authority, Anne Dolamore, as "California's Best Olive Oil" in her book A Buyer's Guide to Olive Oil, Prato Lungo is one of just six oils in the world to earn Dolamore's "Top Recommendation." Prato Lungo also won the 2002 Gold Medal at the Los Angeles County Fair for Packaging and Design in the international competition.
World-renown authority Judy Ridgway awards Prato Lungo "Four Stars" in her newest book, Best Olive Oil Buys Round the World (2002, Gardiner Press).
Many of the best chefs in the country are discovering Prato Lungo and are using it in their own kitchens. For example, Charlie Trotter's in Chicago and Brennan's in Houston both use Prato Lungo to finish dishes as they leave the kitchen.
Long Meadow Ranch also crafts Napa Valley Select extra virgin olive oil as an everyday companion to the Prato Lungo. Long Meadow has made this oil for the past four years, primarily selling it at the Farmers' Market in St. Helena and to local friends-in-the-know. It was released to the public for the first time last year and, along with Prato Lungo, sold out before the holidays.
Made from a blend of oils from Long Meadow Ranch olives and also olives raised by organic-farming neighbors (prominently including Spottswoode and Frog's Leap), Napa Valley Select is perfect for leafy salad greens, with bread, or with basil in a fresh pesto. The Manzanillo olives included in the blend provide a touch of natural bitterness that goes well with greens and adds a rustic feel that is perfect with many Tuscan recipes. The Napa Valley Select not only has great flavors, but with an acidity of just .14 percent it, also achieves a technical stan-dard that exceeds many of the best oils from Tuscany and Umbria.
"One of the keys to making extraordinary olive oil is the capability of pressing olives within a few hours of picking. We preserve the freshness of the fruit by processing immediately with our state-of-the-art Pieralisi equipment right here on the Ranch," said owner Ted Hall. For over ten years, Long Meadow Ranch has been working on the restoration of the historic Prato Lungo orchards that were discovered hidden in the dense second growth forest on the Ranch's hillsides. In conjunction with American and Spanish experts, the Halls are trying to identify the origin of the trees that are believed to have come to California as cuttings aboard ships via Cape Horn. Although the olives are clearly oil-producing cultivars, even DNA testing has not yet revealed their specific origin.
The 2002-vintage Prato Lungo was picked December 10-19, 2002 and the Napa Valley Select was picked December 4-15, 2002, and January 2-6, 2003. During harvest, a crew of eight workers begins each day at sunrise and works until dusk using ladders to reach the 12- to 14-foot high trees. The olives are gently removed by hand from the trees using a "milking action" and are allowed to drop onto tarps carefully arranged under the trees. The crew also works with the aid of Italian-made pneumatically driven "hands" on six- to eight-foot wands that are connected to an air compressor mounted on a tractor. Once on the tarps, the olives are then gathered into lug boxes and taken to a sorting table where leaves, twigs, and imperfect fruit are removed by hand. The olives are deposited in white bins (the same ones used to harvest grapes) and are taken to the "frantoio" or olive pressing room in the winery building. The world-class Pieralisi olive oil equipment at Long Meadow Ranch features a traditional eight-ton Italian granite olive crusher and the latest two-phase horizontal decanting system.
Olive oil maker, Mike McDaniel, has mastered the state-of-the-art Italian-made equipment during his five years of processing at Long Meadow Ranch. A former cellar worker at New-ton Vineyards and a former coffee roaster, McDaniel has a finely developed palate and the experience to operate one of the very few newly constructed olive oil facilities in the United States.
Premium extra virgin olive oil is only one of the many products created by owners, Ted and Laddie Hall at the roughly 600-acre Long Meadow Ranch. The property, known as Long Meadow Ranch since the turn of the century, was an original "patent grant" ranch signed over by President Ulysses S. Grant in 1872. Having been home to a variety of uses during its long history, Long Meadow Ranch continues to grow and prosper through the Halls' stewardship. In addition to restoration of the olive groves, new vineyard plantings, wine and oil making, Appaloosa horse breeding, organic vegetable gardening and egg production, the Halls' activities now include their premier herd of Highland cattle. This highly prized beef - also raised by Britain's royal family - made its debut in the Napa Valley in 2002.
"At Long Meadow Ranch, we set out to achieve excellence through responsible farming. World-class products can be produced using simple sustainable farming methods," says Ted Hall. "We have developed an integrated farming system that relies on each part of the Ranch contributing to the health of the whole. We make our own fertilizers on the Ranch through an extensive composting operation that relies on each segment of the Ranch. Soil erosion is controlled and new soils are built through the use of permanent cover crops of indigenous grasses, clovers and legumes." Long Meadow Ranch does not use herbicides or pesticides and its products are organically grown and produced in accordance with the California Organic Foods Act of 1990.
Prato Lungo is available in a limited supply for $45 per 500 ml. bottle, plus $6 shipping. The Napa Valley Select is available for $18, per 375 ml. bottle, plus $6 shipping. The oils are available through the website at www.longmeadowranch.com or by calling toll-free 877-NAPA-OIL (877-627-2645). The oils may also be purchased seasonally at the St. Helena Farmer's Market (Friday mornings at Crane Park in St. Helena) and at Long Meadow Ranch's Rutherford Gardens vegetable stand, located at 1796 South St. Helena Highway, Rutherford, CA.
Contact: Monty J. Sander