McEvoy Ranch, a 550-acre ranch, boasts home to 80 Acres of organic olive trees, 7 acres grape vines and extensive fruit, vegetable and flower gardens. Nan McEvoy founded the ranch after purchasing the Petaluma land in 1991, with a desire to have a place for her grandchildren to experience the beauty that only Northern California offers. The land, strictly zoned for agriculture, became not only a place for her grandchildren, but also a homage to her love of Tuscan olive oil. Nan went against the odds and imported 1000 seedlings from Tuscany, and proving many wrong, became one of the first producers of olive oil in California. Nowadays, the ranch also produces wine, specialty food products, and body care made with their famous olive oil.
Kelly and I had the opportunity to stop by for a visit after our trip to Hog Island Oyster Farm. When we arrived at the gates, we were greeted by two fawns who welcomed us to the rows upon rows of lavender lining the long driveway leading us to the ranch retail shop & tasting room.
I am never one to shy away from retail, and was excited to try some of the ranch’s beauty products. You might be familiar with the beauty line, called ’80 Acres’ – sold in many retail shops, it is all formulated with organic olive oil from the property, and made in small batch quantities by local artisans. I got a little carried away and tried every scent of hand cream, and ended up smelling like a perfumery. My favorite was the blood orange, and I ended up purchasing creams from almost every scent.
After our dose of retail therapy, we tried some of the McEvoy ranch wine. Some of the olive trees are interplanted within the rows of the vineyards, providing extra shade to the grapes, which produces a wonderful Pinot noir. My favorite, though, was the Rosebud Rosé, named in memory of the McEvoy’s dear friend – a redheaded cowgirl – hence the boot-adorned label.
We then went for a nice walk to tour the rest of the ranch buildings. As we walked up the drive, we learned that many olive trees within the area come from cuttings of the McEvoy ranch trees. The initial 1000 seedlings have spread their roots throughout California – a way of sticking it to the naysayers, don’t you think?
As we walked by the ranch’s kitchen, the Ranch chef, Mark Rohrmeier, invited us in to see the recently remodeled kitchen, and offered us some of the ranch’s Wine Club pick-up party leftovers. Normally I’m not one for leftovers, but when leftovers involve raspberry Rosé sorbet, I am in. I am all in.
After our Rosé sorbet break, we toured the Chinese pavilion and courtyard, then visited the Conservatory, full of succulents, and other greenery. Afterwards, we walked through the working greenhouse, where the ranch has hosted farm parties in the past. Then finished our tour in the sprawling gardens where we saw the flowers & vegetables that feed the ranch.
Before we left, we stopped to try some of what the ranch is known for: its extra virgin olive oil. We tried it like the pros would, with just a spoon! The ranch’s olive oil is high quality, and can be judged, just like the Italians do it, by the number of coughs it causes you to have after tasting it. The oil is quite peppery, but absolutely delicious. I picked up a bottle of their new Limited Edition blend to bring home with me for drizzling on Kelly's famous summer pasta.
The crunch of the gravel pathways reminded me of visiting France, the bountiful gardens and fresh lavender & olive trees were a spectacular site. If you ever have the chance to visit the ranch, you will not be disappointed! Be sure to pick up a bottle of the Rosebud Rosé, grab a few bottles of their Limited Edition extra virgin olive oil, and some 80 Acres hand creams.
The Ranch is open for wine tastings Wednesday - Saturday, by appointment only, and offers tours of their property and mill throughout the season. To schedule a tasting, call 707.769.4100 or register for their next tour on July 23rd at mcevoyranch.com.