Of Wines and Oxen at Long Meadow Ranch
On the very first sunny Saturday after all of those months of torrential rain, my husband and I headed for the farm. Hello, Mother Nature!
Long Meadow Ranch Winery & Farmstead in St. Helena just introduced its new Napa Valley Food, Wine and Tour Program, with tours departing from the historic Gothic Revival Logan-Ives House on Main Street, built in the 1870s and fully restored as a classic farmhouse.
We arrived in the morning to join a Napa Valley Dream tour, which started with some good coffee, pastries, and fresh strawberries, grown right in front of the house on a well-tended circular kitchen garden bed.
Long Meadow Ranch is a contemporary certified organic establishment, successfully growing vines, olives, and cattle, and producing wonderful cabernets, superb olive oils, and farm-to-table meats.
Proprietors Ted, Laddie, and Chris Hall, whose motto is “Excellence through Responsible Farming,” adhere to the full-circle method, which means food and wine are grown sustainably, with the estate-produced animal fertilizer and compost, enriched by unique nutrients found in olives and their byproducts.
As we learned on our tour of the 650-acre green pastures, located in the Mayacamas Mountains with gorgeous views of the valley, the owners believe in eating locally and seasonally, and are committed to providing the best food-and-wine destination experience, equally compelling for the local community and for visitors from near and far.
After a short drive uphill, we stopped among the yellow, red, and purple wildflowers by the combed vineyards, climbing upward with their pruned black vines, speckled with the first greenery.
Above them there was a solar-powered winemaking facility in a majestic building, literally pressed into the mountain behind it to create naturally protected coolness within its thick walls.
A high roof with openings for daylight created deep shade over the stainless steel wine storage vats in one of the spacious rooms. In another, French oak barrels formed rows upon rows under a low curved ceiling of the cave with year-round maintained 100-percent humidity.
In the third one, there was an entire olive mill, with humongous granite wheels for the first crush of the fruit, pits included, into a tapenade-like mass from which pure oil would be extracted in a series of further operations.
Back in the sun again, we visited Custom, a beautiful Scottish Highland ox with luxurious russet coat, big head, and massive horns, grazing peacefully behind a wire fence.
Then we drove a little farther to an open-air barn to see a bunch of calves of the same breed, grown here for a special grass-fed beef, lean and relatively low in saturated fat, but with enough marbleization to attract chefs of upscale restaurants.
We also stop to look at a clean pinkish-grey pig and at a chatty crowd of beautiful multi-colored egg-laying hens – red, grey, black, and brown.
Finally, it was time for us to sit down in one of the private rooms of the Logan-Ives House for some food and wine pairing.
Our first glass of crisp 2010 LMR Sauvignon Blanc was paired with a Red Wattle pork rillette. Tender, pleasantly fatty meat was garnished with fresh uncooked asparagus, shaved into green ovals bathed in lemon vinaigrette, and decorated with purple chive flowers.
An elegant 2007 Ranch House Red was nicely matched with LMR grass-fed bresaola, brined in this same wine before being air-cured for two months. Dry Jack shavings and arugula with olive dressing rounded up the bouquet of flavors.
For dessert, we had a glass of LMR big signature cab – 2006 E. J. Church Cabernet Sauvignon to go with buttermilk panna cotta covered with blood orange gelee and candied peels.
LMR’s acclaimed wines and extra-virgin olive oils are offered for tasting daily in the Logan-Ives House at Long Meadow Ranch Winery & Farmstead, located at 738 Main Street in St. Helena. It is open to the public from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. No appointments necessary. For more information, visit their website.