Once a riverbed, our benchland Rutherford Estate is an organic, sustainable, integrated farming system that relies on each part of the ranch to contribute to the health of the whole. The estate has 74 acres of certified organic vineyards planted to Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot. It is also home to our fruits, vegetables, beehives, and a growing flock of egg-laying poultry. Our diverse ranch defies the monoculture that reigns supreme in Napa Valley. Our chefs collaborate with our agricultural team to carefully select varieties that will thrive and provide the best selection for our restaurant and farmer’s market throughout the year.
The farm is bountiful right now. We are currently harvesting summer crops, including shishito peppers, candy-stripe figs, and heirloom tomatoes, as well as sauvignon blanc grapes. The agricultural team is always finding new ways to expand our sustainable farming program, and this year we have harvested our potatoes and sweet corn with horse cultivation. We are preparing for the fall season by planting our Brassica varieties including cabbage, broccoli, kale, and collards.
We checked in with our chefs and farmers to get their thoughts on the relationship between our farm and restaurant and what motivates them.
“There is a synergy between the farm and the restaurant. What comes from our farm, dictates what’s on our menu, so we grow purposefully. We create a year-long planting plan to provide for our fruit and vegetable needs for the entire year. We sit down and look through the seed catalogs and decide what varieties we want to grow and if we want to try new crops.
It’s more interesting to grow something that has a story behind it. We use a lot of heirloom varieties, which survived through seed programs, farmers markets or were passed on family to family. Tomatoes are a great example of this, with all the heirloom varieties seen today. Getting ahold of some of these seeds, it’s almost like lore, which makes it fun. Heirloom vegetables are not about everything being the same size and consistency, it’s all about flavor.”
- Stephen Barber, Executive Chef
“The feedback we get from our chefs is constantly improving what we do on the farm, and that is what allows us to continuously deliver a high quality product.
Planning is essential to what we do, nothing is random or accidental. We have a plan for our restaurant, farmers market, and Chef’s Table. Our goal is to provide the highest quality produce. For the restaurant that means, we pick in the morning and have it on your plate for lunch.”
- Joseph Hardin, Director of Agricultural Operations
"The farm is what defines the restaurant, and is the heart and soul of Long Meadow Ranch. Our farm influences the decisions we make in the kitchen because we focus on expressing the present moment, which means whatever is in season is what goes on the menu. Being able to choose what we grow and when to harvest it, gives us a huge advantage. Without the farm, we’re just another restaurant."
- Kipp Ramsey, Farm to Table Manager
“When I joined Long Meadow Ranch last year, I was excited about the farm and having the ability to take advantage of our terroir and seasonality in the Napa Valley. As the pastry chef, I am fortunate to be able to use only our produce. The summer is a really beautiful time because I have so much to work with from berries to peaches to plums. People ask, ‘When will you make a banana cream pie?’ When you bring me a banana that is grown in California, then I will make it.”
- Lindsay Swetsky, Pastry Chef
“The culinary garden is the main source of our creativity for the Chef’s table. We look at what produce is at its peak and base the whole menu around that, highlighting different vegetables on each course. The menu changes almost every day depending on what’s going on in the garden. We treat all produce and livestock that we produce with respect and want to elevate each ingredient as much as possible.”
- Aaron Marthaler, Estate Chef
Faces of LMR
The farmers market is where it all began for the Hall family, selling produce from their first garden at the Mayacamas Estate. You’ll still find Laddie at the farmers markets every week selling our farm fresh products.
How long have you been participating in the St Helena Farmers Market?
How did you get involved?
In 1989, we set up our own family garden after we bought the ranch in the Mayacamas mountains. We started producing more than our family could consume so we happily shared with friends and neighbors, but even then we had too much. The boys were young and interested in figuring out a way to earn money, as young kids do, so instead of a lemonade stand, I thought they should take our produce to the farmers market. The manager of the market at the time was excited to have the boys involved because they would be the “farmers of tomorrow”. We’ve been at the market ever since.
How did you get your start in farming?
Ted and I had a community garden plot when we were married students at Stanford. I had never grown vegetables before. We also attempted a small vegetable garden at our first home in San Francisco but the weather made it challenging to have much success. I was very excited to try a tomato variety called “San Francisco Fog”. It grew and produced a small amount of fruit that had very thick skin and no flavor. However, the most learning and the most success in growing vegetables and fruits came when we bought Long Meadow Ranch and started our own family vegetable garden. Ted was very familiar with growing vegetables from his experience as a child with his family’s garden. This new garden brought the challenge to the rest of the family and the children and I learned so much and began to have a lot of success and a lot of fun and we were all eating a lot of delicious veggies!
What does Long Meadow Ranch sell at the farmers market?
When you think of a farmer’s market you think mostly of seasonal fruits and vegetables. LMR also sells grass-fed beef and lamb, and organic free-range eggs. We also include some of our provisions like grass-fed beef jerky, olive oils, and preserves. The display at our farmers market stand truly represents all the bounty that Long Meadow Ranch has to offer. There is such a diversity at our table!
Can you talk about why that diversity is important?
The Napa Valley is an amazing agricultural venue. The valley is an extraordinary place to be growing wine grapes, but there is more to agriculture than just making wonderful wines. The valley once had diversity with wheat, walnuts, plums, mulberries for silkworms, cattle, horses for farm work and riding. That diversity is a healthy way to account for soil variances, pest pressures, and water availability. Diversity in agriculture is beginning to happen again, as there are young farmers who want to grow things for the table.
With all this wonderful produce, you must need to get creative in the kitchen sometimes, where do you get inspiration for recipes?
I love cookbooks! So I will browse through them for ideas. The recipes I prefer are usually very simple with few ingredients. That doesn’t mean I am a lazy cook, I just enjoy the pure flavors of the veggies. Most of the time I just season with salt, pepper, and LMR olive oil!
Keeping it seasonal: what is your favorite summertime dish?
A cobbler with fruit from the farm, either blackberry or peach. I always love a panzanella salad with ripe heirloom tomatoes.
Farmstead Farmers Market: Saturdays and Sundays from 10AM to 2PM through October.
More details on the Napa and St Helena Farmers Markets
At The Table
Heirloom Tomato Pie
Heirloom Tomato Pie
serve with Chardonnay, Anderson Valley, 2016
Recipe Courtesy of Kipp Ramsey - Farm to Table Manager
Makes Two 9-inch Pies
“While traveling through North Carolina this summer visiting family, a good friend of mine came over for dinner and brought a tomato pie. It’s a southern staple and I was reminded of how delicious it is. I was inspired to make my own. What’s better than mayonnaise and tomatoes together? It’s a crowd pleaser.”
- 1 cup unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 -inch cubes
- 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp sugar
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- ¼-½ cup ice water
- 4 pounds heirloom tomatoes
- Sea salt
- 2 large eggs
- 1 1/2 cup Duke’s mayonnaise
- 2 tbsp. dijon mustard
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1 pound cheddar (we use a white cheddar from Sonoma, Vella), grated
- Two 9-inch pie crust shells, pre-baked and cooled
- Black pepper
- Fresh herbs to garnish, basil, thyme, chive, etc
Make the Pie Crust
In a large bowl, combine the butter, flour, sugar, and salt. Make sure that the butter is well chilled. Use two butter knives to cut the butter into the flour mixture until pea-size pieces form. Massage the butter pieces between your fingers to make flakes similar to corn flakes cereal.
Add the ice water to the flour by the tablespoon, stirring to combine just until it begins to come together. Roll the dough into a ball and portion into 2 pieces. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator until ready to use. Once chilled (after an hour or so) you can roll the dough out making sure to use flour to avoid sticking.
When ready to bake, preheat a convection oven to 325°F (or a regular oven to 350°F). Line the shell with parchment paper and fill with pie weights (dry beans or rice works great). Bake for 30 minutes. Remove the weights and parchment and bake another 15 minutes, or until the crust is cooked through and golden brown. Let cool on a rack and use as desired.
Make the Tomato Pie
Preheat a convection oven to 350°F (or a standard oven to 375°F).
Fill a large pot three-quarters full with water and bring to a boil. While the water is coming up, core the tomatoes and, using a sharp knife, make a shallow X-shaped incision on the bottom of each, doing your best to cut just the skin and not into the flesh.
Once the water reaches a boil, prepare an ice bath by filling a large bowl with ice and water; set it within easy reach of the stove. Working in batches, place the tomatoes in the boiling water and cook until the cut skin at the bottom of the tomato begins to stretch and peel away; this usually takes between 45 and 90 seconds. As this happens, transfer the tomatoes one by one to the ice bath. Once the tomatoes are cool, peel their skins off using your hands and set them into a colander in the sink to drain off any excess liquid.
Slice the tomatoes into 1/4-inch-thick slices and lay them out in a single layer on baking sheets. Generously season both sides of each tomato with sea salt. Allow the tomatoes to sit for 20 minutes. This will draw out moisture, which prevents the pie from being watery. Once the tomatoes have marinated for 15 minutes, pat dry with paper towels.
To make the custard, whisk the eggs in a mixing bowl. Whisk in the mayo, mustard, milk, and cream.
Layer a small amount of the cheddar in the bottom of each piecrust, and then make a layer of tomato slices, with each slice’s edge slightly overlapping. Add fresh cracked pepper and herbs to each layer. Sprinkle on another layer of cheese, then drizzle enough of the custard over the top to drip through and cover all of the ingredients. Repeat these steps, starting with the tomatoes and ending with the custard, until all the ingredients are gone. Don’t be afraid to stack a little higher than the crust.
Place the pies on baking sheets and transfer to the oven. Bake for 30 minutes, then rotate the pies 180 degrees and bake for another 30 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack. Let cool and set for 1 to 2 hours before serving.