Long Meadow Ranch Timeless Traditions
A few members of our team share some of their favorite holiday traditions.
“I like to craft wreaths for the front gate and horse barn at the winery. I forage all the pieces from the ranch. It’s a very peaceful time for me, to walk the property looking for the right greenery, and gathering whatever calls to me. Then on Christmas Eve, I will hang a bunch of carrots on the wreath at the horse barn so that there are treats from Santa Claus in the morning for the horses.”
Laddie Hall, Proprietor
“I’m Mexican and English and my husband is German and Swedish. We do a German Christmas with all of his family eating dinner together with my favorite German treat. His mom has a Swedish Christmas gathering with meatballs and rice pudding, and everything decked out in red and white decorations. Then on Christmas Eve, we have Mexican Christmas at our house with tamales, enchiladas and lots of laughs and tequila. Christmas Day we have our English Christmas with crackers that we all pop to get our colorful paper crowns and wear them at dinner. All in all, my favorite Christmas tradition is celebrating all the ways our cultures eat and celebrate the gift of family.”
Becky Willems, Farmstead Bartender
"On Christmas morning my family and I start the day with mimosas then gather around the tree to open gifts. Later on, I go to the beach with a big group of friends to surf and we all wear Santa hats. At the end of the day, my family takes a ride down the PCH on our beach cruisers."
Kory Kovac, Production Coordinator
“My family’s tradition is simple but very meaningful. We celebrate Christmas Eve more than Christmas Day. We get together to cook our dinner, tamales of course, and spend time with each other. Normally we go to midnight church service and then we go back home to open presents. Christmas day is very relaxing, we gather at the kitchen to eat leftovers and we always spend some time calling our friends and relatives in Mexico to wish them all a Happy Holiday.”
Jose Vazquez, Mayacamas Estate Host
“Holiday traditions for my family have always been a little out of the ordinary. I don't think a single year has gone by that we haven't sung Happy Birthday to baby Jesus in the manger of my mother's nativity set on Christmas morning. A tradition that I hope will keep on for generations! We've always valued time together so making sure we are with each other has been one of our most consistent traditions.”
Samantha Klee, Chef’s Table Server
Faces of LMR
Pilo Villanueva, Crew Forman
Pilo joined Long Meadow Ranch in 1998 as our first full-time farmworker. He had been working on a landscaping crew and wanted to get back to the vineyards with his "own ranch" to oversee. Since Pilo has been with us from the earliest days he knows where every valve and buried pipe is on the entire ranch. He is a master at overseeing the irrigation system, and because he has seen so many different weather conditions, he addresses issues before they happen, which is extremely valuable.
How long have you been with LMR?
I just had my 20 year anniversary! I started in 1998. I moved to the Napa Valley from San Marcos in Oaxaca 28 years ago. I followed my brothers here who were working for Frog’s Leap. I started at Dalla Valle and was there for 8 years before joining the Long Meadow Ranch team.
How has the company evolved over the past 20 years?
When I started, it was just my supervisor and I and Long Meadow Ranch only had 10 acres of grapes. There was Sangiovese, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon planted at the Mayacamas Estate plus the historic Prato Lungo olive grove. Now there are over 200 acres of grapes, 11 acres of olives, and the farm team has grown to 30 people.
Tell us about some of your projects over the years...
One of my big projects when I first started was planting the new olive trees to increase our production after the olive mill was purchased. The new olives were planted in 2000 and 2001.
About five or six years ago, I started helping with the olive milling process, learning how to operate the mill. I was an apprentice of sorts to Sean McEntire, who is our Mill Master. There’s a lot going on and it’s good to have a second hand. I am now able to run the olive mill myself.
How did you learn about organic farming?
I brought some knowledge with me from my time in Mexico. But I learned a lot from Frank Leeds, who was the vineyard manager for LMR when I first joined. It’s mostly been on the job training.
What does your day to day look like?
It changes throughout the year. The other day I was helping move our cattle from a pasture in Carneros over to our Tomales Bay Ranch. Now that harvest is done, I have time for cleaning and organizing the farm.
Do you have a favorite time of year?
When it comes to the vineyards, my favorite season is pruning, because it is the start of getting the vineyards ready. Pruning season starts in January and goes through end of March or beginning of April.
What do you like about living in the Napa Valley?
It’s a calm, peaceful town and it’s a great community for raising my four kids.
Any holiday traditions you are looking forward to this year?
At Christmas, my brother’s and I get together with our families and cook tamales or pozole. We give thanks for all that we have and good health.
To bring in the New year, we have a tradition where everyone eats 12 grapes, one for each month in the New Year. You make a wish on each grape for something you would like to come true in the new year. Then we toast!
At The Table
Gingerbread Ranch Cookies
Gingerbread Ranch Cookies
great with our Stumptown Farmstead Blend Organic Coffee
Recipe Courtesy of Lindsay Swetsky, Farmstead Pastry Chef
Gingerbread Cookie Cut-Outs
Ingredients for Cookies
18oz All-Purpose Flour
6oz Brown Sugar
1T Ground Ginger
1t Baking Soda
1/2 t Ground Cloves
1/2 t Salt
8oz/ 2 sticks Unsalted Butter
1oz Whole Milk
Directions for Cookies
1. Combine dry ingredients in a bowl: All-Purpose Flour, Brown Sugar Cinnamon, Ground Ginger, Baking Soda, Ground Cloves, and Salt. Set aside.
2. Melt Butter. Pour into mixing bowl with paddle attachment.
3. Add Molasses and Whole Milk and mix together.
4. Slowly add the dry ingredients, scraping the bottom of the bowl to ensure it is well mixed.
5. Pat dough into a square and wrap tightly. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes to firm up.
6. Roll out dough using a small amount of flour to keep from sticking. Cut out shapes. Re-roll scraps and continue to cut out shapes.
7. Refrigerate dough at least 30 minutes before baking.
8. Space out cookies on a parchment-lined sheet pan. Bake at 350F for approximately 8-12 minutes, depending on your preference for soft or crispy cookies.
9. Allow to cool completely before decorating.
Ingredients for Icing
1 pound powdered sugar
4 tablespoons whole milk
Directions for Icing
Mix powdered sugar and milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, until spreadable (mixture will thicken slightly as it sets).