When Chris London, a full-time United Airlines pilot, and his wife Karen purchased the first 51 acres of Springhill Ranch in Petaluma back in 1999, neither had much experience with farming. In fact, they hadn’t even decided what to grow on the property. After consulting with local agriculture experts, the couple settled on wine grapes. Chris and Karen soon enrolled in farming and viticulture classes with the University of California – and learned very quickly. Today, the 138-acre ranch grows and supplies quality pinot noir grapes to five local wineries.
The couple also looked into raising beef cattle to help offset the high cost of operating the vineyard. Their main concern when selecting the right cattle breed was that the meat must be of exceptionally high quality to compete with other producers in the San Francisco Bay Area. The couple decided that the Wagyu and Scottish Highland cattle breeds would meet both the desire for exceptional taste and the health considerations of their consumer base.
As sustainability and animal welfare have always been a top priority for Chris and Karen, they were happy to find Animal Welfare Approved during their search for a third party certification for their beef cattle. “Karen takes the care of these animals real seriously,” Chris says. “There's a lot of pride in raising these animals.”
Springhill Ranch beef is available by direct order through the ranch only. Chris and Karen see this as a great way to develop relationships with their customers, as well as to keep their prices low. “We encourage people to buy the whole cow, wherever possible,” Chris says. “That way we can try to keep it affordable. It's not priced for the elite.”
For more information or to order, visit http://www.springhillpinot.com/mij.html.