Rows upon rows of aged walnut trees grace the historic orchards of Rancho La Viña, Hibbits Ranch and Edalatpour Ranch which combine to produce La Nogalera Walnut Oil. Located along picturesque views in the Santa Rita Hills of Santa Barbara County, these three ranches harvest over 220 acres of premium quality walnuts. The exceptionally high quality, rich-tasting walnut oil is a versatile asset to your culinary dishes.
An over 100+ year old Concorde walnut tree on Edalatpour Ranch
Although there are hundreds of different walnut varieties available on the market today, La Nogalera prides itself on using older, heritage varietals that consist of Payne, Concorde, Lompoc and Placentia trees. The 7000+ trees grow walnuts that are incredibly rich in flavor, that when blended, produce a high quality walnut oil. This is achieved by utilizing a traditional French manner of roasting the nuts prior to pressing to enhance the natural flavors and then cold pressed only once. The end result is walnut oil that contains no additives or preservatives of any kind.
Walnuts will often grow in clusters
Did you know walnuts are grown inside a husk, the green fruit portion, that eventually breaks off when time to harvest?
José Baer, owner of Rancho La Viña, graciously gave us a guided tour of the property.
Mary Jane Edalatpour, owner of Edalatpour Ranch, shares her insights and experiences as a walnut grower.
José Baer and Mary Jane Edalatpour, along with her pup, walk the orchards with Kristin
The process of growing, harvesting and producing walnut oil was new to me and I was fascinated to learn the intricacies of their processes (Little did I know that walnuts grew inside a fruit hanging from a tree!). In a process similar to grapegrowing, these walnut trees are hybrids consisting of a rootstock and a scion. Using a grafting technique, they insert the scion into the rootstock to better enhance the growth of the walnut trees.
The rootstock is used to anchor the base of the tree into fertile soil, while the scion can vary with lots of different varietals that are based upon what is best depending on the climate, landscape, etc.
An example of a rootstock and scion at the base of a walnut tree
A cluster of walnuts, still in their husk, will continue to grow until harvest season in October
Harvest of walnuts generally begins late September or early October. Once 80% of the nuts are cracked, it’s a good indicator of when it is time to start harvesting and collecting the walnuts. This process is done first by utilizing a “shaker” that grabs the base of the tree and literally shakes it to knock the remaining walnuts from the branches. Next, a sweeper drives down the rows and blows the walnuts into a row that enables the next piece of machinery to pick them up. The process is quite a well-oiled machine and beats collecting the nuts the old way, which was by throwing a gunnysack over your neck, bending over and tossing the walnuts in as you walked the rows!
Machinery used to harvest the walnuts can date back to the 1940’s here at La Nogalera
After the nuts are collected, they are sent off to an organic nut processor that cracks the nuts and moves forward with the production of creating walnut oil. The end result is exceptionally rich, nutty flavored oil that is a remarkable addition to some of your favorite dishes in the kitchen. For recipes and culinary ideas, visit La Nogalera’s website and blog.
La Nogalera Walnut Oil is available locally throughout Santa Barbara County, in specialty stores & gourmet markets across the country, as well as online.
Written By: Kristin Mansky