McEvoy Ranch – Sustainable Farming Produces Top of the Line Olive Oil ~ and Then Some!Aug 28th, 2011 | By Anna del Rosario | Category: Cool Factors, Featured, Home, Women
By Anna del Rosario. Photography by Lulu del Rosario and JD Estella
Tucked into the hills and meadows between San Francisco and Sonoma is Petaluma, a small, quaint little town rich in history. Petaluma was pioneered by the Spanish in 1776, and was part of a 66,000 acre Mexican land grant of 1834 by Governor Figueroa to a gentleman called Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo. Petaluma was also a popular destination for pioneers hunting for gold in 1849, and at one time, the area was known as the Egg Capital of the World, spawning the nickname “Chickaluma“. Fun facts!
Today, 550 of these acres with 18,000 olive trees belong to Nan Tucker McEvoy, the former Chairman of the Board of the San Francisco Chronicle, which her family owned. Her father, Michael de Young, founded the San Francisco Chronicle in 1865. At 91 and still very active, Nan’s long list of credentials includes being one of the original founders of the Peace Corp, with Seargent Shriver. Originally purchased some 20 years ago as her retirement retreat where she could spend time with her three grandchildren, the property was zoned as agricultural land in 1990, requiring her to plant olive groves in the rolling hills, so she could continue to maintain her residence. Today, McEvoy Ranch is the pioneer of the olive oil industry in California, but much more recently, the company has also introduced a new line of body products made from the herbs grown at the farm, with olive oil as a base for the wonderfully scented soaps and lotions.
A tour through the farm is scented with the freshly harvested lavender dotting the borders and fields around the property; every ingredient poured into the body products was organically raised and harvested in the ranch. McEvoy body products carry the brand “80 Acres” representing the total land space that is actually planted. There are six varieties of olives grown in this property: Fantoio, Leccino, Pendolino, Coratine, Maurino and Leccio del Corno. All can claim origins in Tuscany.
McEvoy Ranch is working towards building a self sufficient ecosystem where everything has a purpose. Anything that isn’t used in the kitchen is given away to employees, composted or incorporated into their line of estate-produced items that utilize not only their olive oil, but other offerings from the land as well.
A windmill was recently installed to meet all of the ranch’s existing electrical energy needs. McEvoy Ranch’s windmill is the largest installed in Marin County and the first privately owned windmill of its size to power an agricultural facility in the state of California.
McEvoy Ranch’s olive oils are rich, buttery and very sense. Our group learned the proper way of tasting olive oil and enjoyed learning how oil is extracted from the olives.
The body care products made by McEvoy Ranch ranks high in our list of best scented and long lasting scents and moisturizing benefits. Verde is made with an olive oil base and smells like fresh cut grass, and that wonderful clean, fresh herbal scent. Blood orange lotion smells like you’ve hand picked and squeezed some of the fresh fruit, and Lavender is so pure, it’s very likely that it took little time to go from the field to your hand. The retail store at the San Francisco Ferry Building is a favorite stop for many, locals and tourists alike.
In addition to the olive oil and body care products, the Ranch also produces honey, Meyer lemon marmalade and Tuscan table olives.
Orchard and Garden tours are conducted each month (parasol to protect you from the sun is included). The harvest season is from November to January.
Visit their website at www.mcevoyranch.com to check out the remaining tours for 2011. It was a fun afternoon in the sun. Almost the Tuscan sun ~ or about as close as you can get to it.
Enjoy the photos we took during our visit!