Spending a Day at Lundberg Family Farms!


Disclosure: We were invited on a Farm tour of the Sacramento Valley with California Farm Water Coalition.  During our tour, we spent an afternoon at Lundberg Family Farms.  This was my experience.

To be honest, prior to this tour, I never thought much about how rice was grown, or all that was involved in growing rice.  I also had no idea there were different quality of rices, but, looking back on all that rice is used for, throughout the cultures, I realize, it all makes sense now.

Coming from Minnesota, rice was often a part of our meals, and our Minnesota favorite was none other than Wild Rice, so when we stopped off at Lundberg Family Farms in the Sacramento Valley, I was pretty excited to learn more about Rice, see the rice fields, and of course, learn a bit more about Rice Cakes!

A few facts about Lundberg Family Farms:

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  1. The Lundberg’s originated from Nebraska (midwest ties! yay!)

They trace their roots back to 1937, when Albert and Frances Lundberg moved to California from Nebraska. Albert had seen the ravages of the Dustbowl that resulted from poor soil management and short-sighted farming techniques. After moving the family to Northern California’s fertile Sacramento Valley, he impressed upon his four sons the need to care for the soil.

2.  Upon moving to California, Albert gave his 4 sons each a farm to maintain.

3. The sons realized that they were better farmers working together, as opposed to on their own so they combined their resources, and truly this is how Lundberg Family Farms was born. It was in the 1960’s when the sons realized they needed to begin selling their unconventional rice methods to the general public.  To this day, Lundberg Family Farms is continually combining their resources and working together as a family.

4.  At Lundberg Family Farms, they don’t grow typical conventional rice. All of their Certified Organic and Eco-Farmed rice is grown with a concern for the environment. They treat the soil, air, and water as important resources, respecting the delicate balances of nature. They are also a complete organic farm!

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One of the original tractors that Albert brought with him over from Nebraska.  This tractor sits upon the entrance of Lundberg Family Farms.

Now, about that Rice:

rice-grains

When we first entered Lundberg Family Farms, we were greeted by Bryce Lundberg.  He walked us through the test kitchen, then we were brought into one of their meeting rooms where we got to try their NEW product, “Salted Caramel Rice Cakes,” and let me tell you folks, if you’re looking for a lift me up snack, this rice cake will do just the trick!

After trying the new product, we were brought outside where buckets of rice were in front of us:

Paddy Rice, Hulls, White Rice, Brown Rice, Hulls, and more!  This is where Grant explained to us, the process of rice making, how white rice comes from brown rice,etc.  To sum it up: You start with the grain coming out of the field (see the photo above, the picture on the left is rice straight from the fields!) They bring it in, then get the paddy rice from that.  They then remove the hulls from the paddy rice, leaving the brown rice behind!  And then, they remove the hulls of the brown rice to become white rice.  It was quite informative, and who knew all this happened from one grain of rice coming out of the field!

We were then shuttled into a Golf Cart where Bryce took us by the Rice Fields, showing us all the different varieties of Rice they grew at Lundberg Family Farms:

rice-fields

From Medium Grain to Long Grain to more refined rice.  I never knew there were so many varietals of rice, or, maybe I did, but never thought about it!

We then took a facility tour of their Rice Cake Factory, and Bryce explained to us the process of how Rice Cakes were made.  It would have been awesome if the machines were in action, but because it was the weekend, the machines weren’t running that day!

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Bryce Lundberg explaining the Rice Cake making process to us at Lundberg Family Farms.  Can you believe, 4 Rice Cakes are made every minute? And the fact that machines can make the rice cakes so perfectly round, without breaking? Even more impressive, I can barely get a rice cake out of the package without breaking!

After our facility tour, there was still more to be seen as Bryce then lead us out to his Rice Fields, and where the biggest surprise yet was waiting:

farm-combine

They were starting to harvest one of their rice fields (jasmine rice) with their combine! And guess what? Each of us was getting an opportunity to ride in the combine.  How cool is that?  Truly, this was a memory I’d never forget!!

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Thanks to Sara from My Imperfect Kitchen for capturing this moment as I climbed into the Combine!

Not only that, after my combine experience, Bryce looked over at me, as we were in our little golf cart and asked if I wanted to drive us back towards the front of the field? At that point, I was feeling a little more daring, so I said, “sure, why not!”   rice-field-driving

Proof that I was in the driver’s seat, and more proof, the passengers survived: Gary House from cooking-outdoors, and Sara from My Imperfect Kitchen, and Bryce too!

Needless to say, it was one incredible experience and afternoon at Lundberg Family Farms! Truly something I will never forget.

I look forward to sharing some future rice recipe posts with you, and Lundberg Family Farm has made me an everyday consumer because of their graciousness throughout the day! They also reminded me of all  of their amazing products available!

Check out all their products available here.

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Best Wine Tasting Passports Out There in 2017 in Napa and Sonoma!


Happy New Year Everyone! I love a new year, it gets me excited for what’s ahead for the year.  It’s also a good time to think about that year’s travel and where you want to go, and of course, a good time, to start looking at the best deals out there for your passions.

For me, that includes Wine Tasting, and wine exploring all the great California Wine Regions.  With that being said, during the winter months, there’s often some great passport programs available to help make the most of your wine exploration!

The winter is a GREAT time to go wine tasting too because the tasting rooms are a lot less crowded, giving you a more one on one experience with your wine tasting: truly a win-win! This is the time of the year when you will find me in the tasting rooms!

So, with that being said: Here’s some GREAT Passport Programs Happening Now to Get you PSYCHED for the Year ahead:

Calistoga’s: Winter in the Wineries Passport:

Truly! This is the best Winter Deal: This has become an annual tradition in Calistoga.  I’ve participated in this passport program the previous 2 years, and loved it.

Calistoga is the northern most town of the Napa Valley, their main street has adorable tasting rooms and boutiques to shop in, along with great restaurants and inns.  Also, if you’ve ever wanted to experience a mud bath, you come to Calistoga to do so!

But with that being said, this passport program is a great deal: From December 3 through February 5, your passport will give you tasting flights at 15 Tasting Rooms throughout the Calistoga area for only 50 dollars! YES: Only 50 Dollars! You get your money back by your third tasting! Every year the Tasting Rooms are a little bit different but this year includes tastings at: Castello Di Amorosa, Chateau Montelena, Maldonado, Fairwinds Estate, August Briggs, Lava Vine, Laura Michael, T-Vine, and many more tasting rooms and wineries in the area!

Along with the 15 Tasting Rooms, they also have discounts at Downtown Calistoga Restaurants, Shops and Inns in the area making it the perfect getaway escape!

Saint Helena’s Little Book of Big Experiences:

Little Book of Big Experiences

So, this passport program started this past November and goes all the way through March 2017!  For just 100 Dollars, you get 25 different experiences that include wine tastings, foodie experiences, and discounts on inns in the area!

Tasting experiences include top spots such as: Freemark Abbey, Charles Krug, Beringer, and many more experiences. A full list of the experiences can be found here.  These are truly one of kind experiences, and St. Helena has truly pulled out ALL the stops in this passport program!

Truthfully: This is the passport I’m supporting this year because of the incredible experiences available, and for me to explore more of the Saint Helena area!

Sonoma Passport 2017:

an image of the Sonoma Passport

The start of the year is ALWAYS a great time to buy a year-long passport, especially if you do a lot of wine tasting, and frequent an area often.

That’s why the Sonoma Passport is worth it: For just 59 dollars, this passport lasts an entire year!  So, if you purchase now, you have 12 months of use, talk about a GREAT deal.

The passport includes 2 for 1 tastings at many local wineries in the area, along with discounts on bottle purchases.  And there are some complimentary tastings in the passport, as well.  A great investment, especially if you’re a couple!  You just need to buy one passport for two.

Do a Downtown Napa Wine Tasting Card:

If you are headed to Napa for a weekend getaway, or even longer, purchasing the Downtown Wine Tasting Card is a great deal to have in your back pocket: For just 15 Dollars, this wine tasting card will get you tastings for 1/2 off in all 12 of the Napa Tasting Rooms in Downtown! This tasting card lasts the entire year too!

Park the car at your Downtown Inn, and walk through the tasting rooms of Downtown in a safe and casual way!  Plus, shop at the adorable boutiques along the way, and enjoy some of the great restaurants in the area while saving over 150 Dollars in savings.

Russian River Inns:

Sometimes, when doing your research, you run across a GREAT deal, and often times, great inns in an area will offer complimentary tasting cards or passports during your stay.  This is the EXACT case when you book with the Russian River Inns, upon booking, you will receive a complimentary tasting card/passport to over 120 wineries in the area.  Talk about a GREAT deal, and the perfect excuse for a nice getaway in 2017.

The Wine Road:

Soda-Rock-Winery

Sonoma County’s Wine Road has great events throughout the year include: Winter Wineland, Barrel Tasting Weekends, and their November Wine and Food Affair event.

However, throughout the year, they also have a 1 Day (30 Dollars) or 3 Day Tasting Ticket (60 dollars) to the Wine Road Wineries and Tasting Rooms that will offer you complimentary tastings and/or discounts with these tickets.

Just keep in mind when purchasing these tickets that you may need to make separate tasting appointments for the wineries you want to visit during your stay. Also, pay close attention to the blackout dates where these tickets won’t be accommodated. BUT, this is highly recommended when planning a vacation getaway to Sonoma County!

 

 

 

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Santa Rosa’s Historic Railroad Square!


The other day, I was invited to Downtown Santa Rosa, on behalf of Sonoma County Tourism, and as I met some other travel writers across the Bay Area, many mentioned how they didn’t realize how thriving the downtown Santa Rosa area has become, or knew about the beauty of Railroad square, so it dawned on me, Santa Rosa, really needs to be written about, so here it is.

Santa Rosa, really a central hub to Sonoma Wine Country, is a fun place to visit, and actually a GREAT place to find some fun gifts for loved ones, especially with the impending Holiday Season! And a GEM that many outside the area of Santa Rosa don’t really know about is the Historic Railroad Square.

Railroad Square:

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Railroad Square developed in the 1880’s, when the first trains descended into Santa Rosa!  The city has continued to develop the area in the past few years, and for anyone local, it’s definitely a little gem within the city.

Flying Goat Coffee:

If you start your day early and need a little pick me up, begin at Flying Goat Coffee.

Omelette Express:

Begin your day with breakfast or brunch at Omelette Express.  Seriously, the BEST place in Santa Rosa to get an Omelette!  If omelettes aren’t your thing, do not worry, they have other breakfast options available including Eggs Benedict, Fruit Bowls, Waffles and more!

After breakfast, begin your descent along 4th St, exploring the Shops along the way.  If YOU love Antique’s, then you will absolutely love Railroad Square, as this is Antique Row in Santa Rosa.

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Shuffles Magical Ice Cream Shop:

Craving ice cream?  Stop into Shuffles Magical Ice Cream Shop where they will perform magic for you behind the counter!  They also occasionally put on full on Magic Shows!  Also, a great place to throw a birthday party if you have a little one.

Holiday Carriage Rides:

During December, Carriage Rides take place along Railroad Square from 11am-3pm every weekend!  A really special time of the year to visit.

6th Street Playhouse:

Love Theater?  Be sure to check out a show at 6th Street Playhouse! In 2004, a new partnership reunited the Santa Rosa Players and Actors Theatre under one board of directors. Together they renovated the 107-year-old Del Monte cannery into the 6th Street Playhouse.

Dinner Options:

There’s some REALLY Great restaurants around Railroad Square, some favorites include:

Jack & Tony’s: A full on Whiskey Bar and Restaurant!

La Gare French Restaurant: Probably known as one of Santa Rosa’s most romantic restaurants! This little gem has been in Railroad Square for well over 30 years! Serving Authentic French Cuisine with many great wine offerings!

The Pullman Kitchen: Always a GREAT option when visiting the Railroad Square area!

The Brasserie & Lounge: Located right in the Hyatt Vineyard Creek Hotel. Convenient for those staying at the hotel.

After exploring Railroad Square you could continue your holiday shopping at the nearby Santa Rosa Plaza, or across the mall, descend into Downtown Santa Rosa, and shop along 4th Street! (which, another post will have to be written about this area!)

 

 

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