McEvoy Ranch, a Hidden Gem in Marin
Samantha Dorsey, General Manager
Award-winning olive oil and tasting
80 Acres Oil-Infused Beauty Product Skin Collection
5935 Red Hill Road
Petaluma, CA 94952
Biography and Photos by Ben Davidson:
Tucked in the verdant hills near the Marin-Sonoma border, is one of West Marin's rural gems, the McEvoy Ranch. The legacy of San Francisco Chronicle heir Nan Tucker McEvoy, this 550-acre ranch produces some of the finest organic, extra virgin olive oil in California, cold-processed by their state-of-the-art Rapanelli frantoio (olive press). Taking advantage of its location in the Petaluma Gap, the ranch also grows Pinot Noir, Syrah, Montepulciano, Refosco, Grenache and Viognier grapes to produce acclaimed estate-produced red and rosé wines.
Back in the late 1980s, McEvoy embarked on a quest for a place where her grandchildren could fully experience the distinct beauty of Northern California. She fell in love with this ranch in Petaluma, previously a dairy farm and strictly zoned for agriculture. She purchased the ranch in 1989 and almost immediately started its conversion into an organic farm. Inspired by her love of Tuscan olive oil and The Feast of the Olive by Maggie Klein (a book given to her by her son, Nion, the ranch's current CEO), McEvoy met with one of Italy’s foremost experts on the subject, Dr. Maurizio Castelli, an agronomist and enologist originally from Pistoia, to foster a plan to grow olive trees on the ranch. Despite the challenges involved in producing olive oil in Marin County, and against the advice of many, McEvoy imported 3,000 seedlings from Tuscany. Today McEvoy ranch has some 18,000 trees, all propagated from the original Tuscan collection.
Samantha Dorsey, the General Manager, shepherds the production on 80 acres of organically-grown olive trees and 10 acres of organically-grown grapes. Maintaining a sizeable organic ranch is a challenge for Dorsey. "We have a farming team, gardening/landscape team, and then, of course, the winery and mill to process all the fruit we produce on the land. “Our main focus is managing our resources astutely, whether it's soil, water labor, or capital." "We've worked very hard to grow products that thrive here in Marin County and process them into products that are appealing to our customers: extra virgin olive oil from our olive trees, an array of wines that we produce from grapes that we grow, and flowers and produce well sell at our Ferry Building shop on Market street in San Francisco." "We also have an entire body care line (called 80 Acres) that was inspired from our oil production, so it's an olive oil-based body care line."
"The pleasure about working with olive trees" Dorsey adds, "is their incredible historic value." "Olive trees have been part of agriculture for thousands of years and the product, olive oil, is a part of many major religions. It's a tough, tenacious tree, and it produces this extraordinary liquid gold at the end of the season." "Working with the trees is very humbling because I know I am a farmer following thousands of years of other farmers also working with these trees."
McEvoy Ranch is a private residence and welcomes guests at scheduled events and by appointment only. Appointments for wine tasting are available by calling (707) 769-4100. Scheduled events include ranch tours, botanical design workshops, wreath design workshops, wellness retreats and garden walks. For a current list of events and further information, including online wine, body care and specialty food sales, see the ranch's website: www.mcevoyranch.com.