The Long Meadow Ranch team at Farmstead lives by a saying: “From our farm to your table.” We spoke with second-generation vintner, and Long Meadow Ranch Executive Vice President and COO, Chris Hall to find out what exactly that means.
The Hall family has been farming fruits, vegetables, livestock, and — of course — their world-renowned grapes, in the Napa Valley since 1989. “I grew up going to the St. Helena Farmer’s Market, kind of like a kid’s lemonade stand operation,” recalls Chris, who sold his family’s eggs at the market with his brother Timothy back in the summer of 1991. “It always made sense in the back of my mind to have an experience for people that was similar to what we have at home, where we have meals produced from all of our own organic ingredients.” Even more important than the source of those fresh ingredients is how they’re grown.
At Long Meadow Ranch, they call it full circle farming. It’s a system that goes far beyond organic, which has imposed a resounding initiative within the organization that world-class quality and responsible farming go hand-in-hand. So, what is full circle farming?
“Each part of the farm touches another,” explains Chris. “The manure from our chickens or our horses gets combined with the waste from the vineyards or the olive trees to produce great fertilizers that we then put back into our vineyards or our orchards. The tomatoes that aren’t good enough for the salad or the gazpacho end up being fed back to the chickens who then produce higher quality, more flavorful eggs for the restaurant.”
With such an incredible system of producing quality organic ingredients, Long Meadow Ranch applies the same holistic outlook towards the lifestyle they provide for their employees. “Everything we do starting on the farm and in the land is about stewardship,” says Chris, who has implemented several eco-fitness classes at Farmstead. The concept of nourishing both body and mind is at the forefront of the organization’s mission, a message that its staff and employees seem to highly value.
Above all, Farmstead has found its form in providing an unforgettable experience for its guests.
“People who visit the Napa Valley, or drink Napa Valley wines, or drink wine in general, are looking for that all-encompassing experience. And, being able to provide that experience is more than just the food or wine individually, but something that you tell a story about; when you visit or share that bottle of wine when you go home to your friends and family, or plan your next trip.”
It’s a familiar concept to the NVFF team, and one we can certainly appreciate: the idea of taking a brilliant experience, and expanding on it without sacrificing its core values. Both of our final products reflect those ideals and the key ingredients that form them. “It’s not about affecting change in who we are and what we do,” Chris states, “because I think our core mission, vision, and values have always been something that I’ve believed in and helped develop. I’ve always been very proud of that, but it’s also exciting to be a part of the next generation and to be able to bring new ideas to the table without reinventing the wheel.”
At its core, Long Meadow Ranch is about bringing the experience of food and wine together, and building its business around people who share that experience with their family and friends. “It’s from our farm to the table,” Chris emphasizes. “We really live and breathe that every day.” As literal as it sounds, it helps to put that into the perspective of the chefs working the kitchen.
“I think part of the excitement of working here is that our chefs get to visit the farm and be a part of the production of the ingredients. They can walk right outside and pick something from the farm.” Having access to quality ingredients in your restaurant’s own backyard can make a serious difference on the table. It’s quite a unique perk that benefits from the absence of mono-culture farming, a practice that only allows the growth of a single form of crop; whereas at Long Meadow Ranch, the farmers make the best use of certain sections of their properties, growing only what’s best suited for each area.
“There are reasons why there’s a vineyard planted in one place and all the orchards in another,” Chris expands. “Some soil types aren’t well-suited for vineyards, particularly at our Mayacamas Estate. The olive orchards thrive in places where vineyards might not; whereas in Rutherford, we’re growing fruits and vegetables right next to a world-class vineyard. It’s been important to us to maintain that diversified farming idea, even in the heart of wine country.” Even as an organization that prioritizes quality and responsible farming, it’s the final product that Long Meadow Ranch brings to the table that speaks for itself.