Farming on Tejon Ranch can be traced to the 1850s, when Native Americans cultivated an area on Rancho de Castac – one of the original Mexican land grants that eventually became part of what Tejon Ranch is today.
Although sheep and later cattle were the main focus of the ranch in the 1880s, records show that vineyards and orchards were planted by the 1890s, with 20 acres of oranges, 20 acres of figs and 15 acres of vineyards and mixed deciduous trees listed.
Today, that tradition continues with about 6,000 acres devoted to pistachios, almonds, alfalfa, and winegrapes.
State-of-the-Art Farming Methods
The Ranch uses the latest and best farm management practices to minimize the potential environmental effects of farm operations.
Vineyards and Orchards
More than 1,400 acres are devoted to vineyards in two locations – the mountain area, where warm days and cool nights are ideal conditions for growing premium wines, and the valley floor, where grapes are grown for generic wines.The Tejon vineyards are a prime example of how the Ranch takes its stewardship of the land very seriously. As a member of California Association of Winegrape Growers, the Ranch subscribes to “sustainable wine growing practices,” a program that illustrates how winegrowers can farm in harmony with the natural environment. The goal is to conserve as many natural resources as possible.State-of-the art practices include a pest management program, where only a few ounces or grams of treatment compounds are applied per acre, not pounds, and a very selective drip water system, where the water goes directly to the roots where it’s needed.Other practices ensure the vines are balanced with the right spacing, and the soil is managed so there’s no erosion into creeks, streams or lakes.
Overall, the ranch devotes more than 3,000 acres to almonds and pistachios. Several varieties of almonds on about 1,700 acres yield the largest crop. The almonds typically are harvested in mid-August to October. You never know where you’ll find a Tejon Ranch almond. During a recent year, almonds from the Ranch were shipped to 22 different countries worldwide.
Approximately 1,000 acres are dedicated to pistachios, which are harvested in early September. Pistachios require careful handling as the nuts are already split when they are ready to harvest, so they are not allowed to hit the ground. They are then sent to a processing facility, where they end up either roasted or salted.