There’s nothing we love more at Ceres than getting under the skin of our clients. There’s always so much to be learnt from talking to the people and visiting the places behind our food – whether it’s experiencing the passion of the farmers first-hand, getting to grips with the feel and texture of the soil, or simply taking in the stunning surroundings.

Last month I was lucky enough to visit California to go behind the scenes of the California Walnuts 2019 harvest.

Led by California Walnuts farmers, the California Walnut Commission and our tour guides, we learnt everything there is to know about growing, harvesting (and eating!) walnuts, as well as the world-famous wine, woodland and brands the Golden State is home to.

California Walnuts

Multi-generational farmer John Rehermann’s family have been growing walnuts for decades and were kind enough to welcome us into their walnut orchard and home, to learn about everything that goes into growing and harvesting the nuts.

The first thing that struck us as we stepped off the tour bus, was the absolutely stunning view from the orchard. Beyond rows and rows of walnut trees, drenched in California sunshine, lay a stunning backdrop of mountains against a deep blue sky.

John and Amy talked us through the whole process of growing and harvesting walnuts. We learnt that when the green hull of the walnuts starts to split, this means it is time to harvest, as the walnuts are then easy to remove from inside the shell. Most of the walnut harvesting in California is done by machinery, and we saw mechanical shakers shake each mature tree so that the walnuts fell to the floor. They were then swept into lines, collected up and cleaned and dried to eight percent moisture, which helps protect them during storage.

After we had seen the walnut harvest take place, it was time to try the walnuts from John and Amy’s orchard in some delicious dishes. I had the veggie option of stuffed mushroom salad, topped with red (yes red!) walnuts, followed by a delicious walnut and apple tart! Yum!

World-Famous Woodland, Wine and Brands

As well as being home to world famous walnuts, California is home to a whole host of iconic brands. Silicon Valley is located just south of San Francisco and it was amazing to be reminded by our guide of just how many of the top names are based here, such as Apple, Facebook, Netflix and Twitter.

California is also home to the tallest trees in the world - California Redwoods. So called, because of their striking red bark. During the trip, we visited Muir Woods to see the trees in all their glory. Standing hundreds of feet high in the air, and thousands of years old, amidst a stunning backdrop of gently trickling sparkling streams and a sun dappled forest floor, visiting the redwood forest was an awe-inspiring experience.

The weather and soil which works to make walnuts from California so delicious has a similar effect on the wine from the area, and we were lucky enough to try some of it on our trip. To make the most of the last of the summer evening sunshine, the group enjoyed a glass of California rosé before dinner on the final night in Napa. Crisp, refreshing and pretty in pink, this was the perfect tipple to toast a great week which I’m sure no one on the trip will ever forget! I certainly won’t…

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