A bright, red barn embellished with the Certified Angus Beef, and Five Star Land and Livestock logos, greeted ranch tour visitors as they drove by pastures of black angus cattle onto Mark and Abbie Nelson’s property. As part of the California Rangeland Trust’s partnership with Raley’s and AT&T through the “Where Your Food Grazes and Grows” program, our last ranch tour of the year was nothing short of perfect.
Five Star Land and Livestock is a diverse operation. The Nelsons run a black angus cow-calf operation, breed and raise American quarter horses, and grow both zinfandel and petite sirah wine grapes in Wilton, California. This made for the perfect ranch tour, because guests were able to learn about many different areas of agriculture and what a family-operated ranch is like.
The Nelson’s origin story is quite unique, as told by Mark to attendees during lunch: “When I bought this ranch, I was in real estate development. I never owned a ranch before; I came up here from Newport Beach, I was a surfer. I came up here and decided I would buy a ranch. I bought this ranch, I had some cattle and decided I would show some at the state fair. Every class I entered, I was last. And every class I entered that Abbie was in, she won. So, I figured the best way to improve my herd was to find out who she was and marry her.”
Attendees were treated to a tasty tri-tip sandwich lunch prepared by Smokehouse BBQ while listening to Abbie and Mark tell more of their story. Rangeland Trust’s CEO, Nita Vail, shared with the group the purpose of the ranch tours, and partnership with Raley’s and AT&T.
After lunch was served, attendees were split into two groups to tour the ranch. Part of this unique ranch tour experience included hopping into a livestock trailer to be “hauled” around the ranch. Guests laughingly jumped in and waved to onlookers as they drove away from the cattle pastures towards rolling hills of fall-colored grape vines and horse pens.