@LMR (the ranch blog)
Don't tell anyone but we are opening our tasting room today.
We are very excited about opening the Long Meadow Ranch Winery tasting room in the historic Logan-Ives House, the restored 1874 Gothic Revival farmhouse at 738 Main Street in St. Helena.
If everything goes according to plan, we'll quietly open the doors to the public at 11 AM today.
We'll be offering tastes of our five wines and two olive oils and a short tour of the property. In a few weeks, we'll be offering small plate food pairings from the kitchen.
But, in the meantime, we'll share our family's hospitality and tell our story. I might even play the 1904 upright piano.
The progress at our project site, which we call "Long Meadow Ranch Winery & Farmstead," is now very visible and friends tell us how great they feel when on the grounds.
The historic house has been restored, the landscaping is largely in place, vegetable gardens are partially planted, and the organic nursery has been remodeled. The solar project is producing "juice" and we have moved into our administrative offices upstairs in the farmhouse.
The next step will be opening of Farmstead restaurant early in the new year. But, more about that in another post.
Don't tell anyone, but we would love to have you come by.
We're open until 6 PM.
Posted by Ted Hall
This past week we finished milling our olives here at Long Meadow Ranch.
As Ted mentioned in an earlier blog posting, 2009 has been a skimpy olive harvest. Not to worry, though, as we are making a decent amount of oil. The olive oils thus far have been very rich with a powerful pungency (spicey) character, showing that we will have an excellent level of quality for 2009.
The olive harvest data have shown that all of our oil yields are down. This happens to be the case with all the olive mills in California. Essentially, what's happening is that the oil and water molecules are not breaking apart during the malaxation stage (paste warming and mixing). Therefore, when the olive paste passes through the decanter centrifuge, the separation of liquids (oil and water) from solids is difficult. This problem of extraction is most likely attributed to a high level of moisture in the olives, caused by rain just prior to harvest.
Although we are facing extraordinary challenges this harvest in terms of both quantity and yield, we remain resilient and will be able to release an excellent 2009 olive oil. Please watch for it when we release it!
Posted by Jason Moulton
The secret is out. Until today we were sworn to secrecy - and we still can't disclose the details.
Watch "Top Chef: Season Finale, Part I" tonight on Bravo TV at 10 PM (9 PM Central). Check your local listings for time and cable channel.
Top Chef brought its finale to the Napa Valley and made LMR Rutherford Gardens a featured location. Finalists Jennifer Carroll, Kevin Gillespie, Michael Voltaggio, and Bryan Voltaggio were given a tough challenge, but we can't tell you what it was.
To learn more you'll have to watch the show tonight.
I'll tell more of the story tomorrow.
We started harvesting olives at sunrise on Monday morning, but we are likely to have the smallest harvest on record.
Thanksgiving Day is the calendar marker for our olive harvest each year. Sometimes we start during the short week prior to the holiday and sometimes right after. So, the harvest is right on time this year.
But, our challenge - and for everyone else in Northern California - is that we have a very small crop. The weather at bloom (in late May) could not have been worse for setting the crop.
Usually we worry about enough moisture content in the soil to help keep the fragile blossoms hydrated. This year we had about two inches of rain on May 15th and we thought we were going to have wonderful conditions. We even skipped our usual pre-bloom irrigation.
But, of course, this is farming. Just as the blossoms opened we had an extraordinary heat spell. Temperatures reached the high 90s (in May!) for more than two days. Then, as often happens when we have an early heat spell caused by a high pressure system to the Northeast, we had very high winds. The so-called "perfect storm" hit us hard: high heat, low humidity, and very strong sustained winds (30-50 mph). The blossoms were gone - except in a few protected locations.
No blossoms; no fruit. There is almost no fruit in the entire region.
We'll see how the harvest volumes go for the rest of the week. However, yesterday afternoon Jason Moulton (our olive oil maker) and I were very pleased with the first oil off the press: fresh, clean, and very agreeably pungent!
So, maybe the good news will be in this vintage's quality. Let's hope so.
More at the end of the week.