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Full Circle Farming in
Napa’s Mayacamas Mountains

By Lisa Gmur, CSW

In 1872, a gentleman and Civil War Veteran by the name of E.J. Church was given an opportunity to move from the east to the west. President Ulysses S. Grant himself signed the land patent granting 640-acres in the Mayacamas Mountains to Church. And for fifty years Church farmed the property with, grapes for wine, olives for olive oil, apple orchards, cattle, and goats.

In 1920 with the start of prohibition, he sold the property to a San Francisco couple who used it as a weekend retreat. Over the years the estate became swallowed by the encroaching forest.

All that changed when the Hall family bought the property in 1989 and breathed life back into the land, nurturing it back to its former glory, and then some. The Hall family cut back abandoned olive trees, replanted the vineyards and orchards and established Long Meadow Ranch.

Their intention was to organically farm the property which was something fairly new to the region. But they didn’t relent. With a few other Napa families and farmers they led the charge in organic farming and their first organically farmed grapes came on line with their 1994 vintage.

Today there are bees for honey, egg laying flocks of chickens including the famed Rhode Island Reds. There is an organic fruit and vegetable garden with over 250 different varieties.

Long Meadow Ranch practices what they call Full Circle Farming where basically nothing goes to waste, and everything goes back into the circle. How this works is fairly simple; each part of the farm contributes to the other. For instance, the first quality of fruits and vegetables is served at their Farmstead Restaurant in St. Helena.

"The Mountain Estate (also known as our Mayacamas Estate) is nestled in the mountains high above the Rutherford Bench and is home to vineyards, olive groves, horses, and the edible garden Chris and Timmy planted as children on the ranch."

"The Rutherford Estate sits on a mineral-rich benchland that was once a riverbed on the floor of the Napa Valley and is now home to vineyards, fruits and vegetables, beehives, and our flock of egg-laying chickens."

"The Anderson Valley Estate, in Mendocino County, stretches over a diverse mix of elevations with the Navarro River forming the southern boundary and cool sea breezes from the Pacific bringing the marine layer through our vines."

The second quality of their organic produce is used for soups and garnishes at the restaurant. The third layer is never for human consumption. It is only used for the chickens and goats who eat the organic fruits and vegetables and then produce the organic eggs and dairy which are all served in the restaurant. The waste from the chickens and manure from the cattle goes into the compost program which produces 250 tons of compost a year which then gets sprinkled back into the land.

The last 30 plus years under the Hall family have also seen physical expansion. They purchased a property in Rutherford, widely known and loved for Cabernet Sauvignon, and then in another in Anderson Valley where they farm Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and a small plot of Pinot Grigio.