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Going nuts for a unique California product

A California farm family, an entrepreneur and a chef are proving you can celebrate the flavors of the season in a variety of ways—thanks to one little nut and one big idea!


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Here in California, on land from Redding to Bakersfield, more than 200,000 acres are devoted to walnut production. Dan Martinez and his family have been rooted in the walnut industry since the 1950s. They call the fertile soil of Winters home base and say their Yolo County property is the absolute perfect place to grow one of nature's perfect foods.

Dan and his family grow 700 acres of grapes and rootstock in addition to the 170 acres of walnuts they have. But to stay competitive in the nut world, they've been looking for other venues through which to sell their walnuts. One of them came just up the road in Woodland—at the La Tourangelle nut oil company.

Taking the best of both worlds—fresh California walnuts and French production methods—Frenchman Matthieu Kohlmeyer has created this country's first homegrown nut oil. Each batch is unique and handcrafted following a 150-year tradition that Matthieu followed in France. But when it came time to open up shop in the States, there was no question on where to go—California.

"We came to Winters because we're surrounded by walnut trees," said Matthieu. "When we were looking for locations to be near the walnuts, it only made sense to come here."

La Tourangelle now produces 14 different types of oils, from almond to pumpkin to avocado. But the biggest seller is the walnut oil. More than 15,000 tins are sold every month to retail outlets nationwide. In addition, they also have found a following among chefs looking for a new flavor enhancer.

At Paul Martin's American Bistro, chef Josh Korn says the oil adds a nice nutty pop to whatever he's working with—whether it's veggies, salads or even main dishes. But more than that, the new product is a way to support their local farming community.

"That's a way of life for these people," Josh said. "It's their livelihood and anything we can do to help support them and keep agricultural land in agriculture and growing food for all of us, we're all about that and whatever we can do to help."

This trio is proving you can celebrate the flavors of the season in a variety of ways—all thanks to one little nut and one big idea!

For more information about La Tourangelle, visit www.latourangelle.com.

For more information about Paul Martin's American Bistro, visit paulmartinsamericanbistro.com.


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