Just before Thanksgiving break a friend and I took one of my tots and hit the country roads from Loomis to Penryn in the Northern California foothills. This area is part of the Mountain Mandarin growing region and has some of the best mandarins we have tried, grown along sleepy country roads. We didn’t know exactly where we were going. We just had a map and drove around for hours exploring this countryside which was completely new to us.
We saw the driveway to Colwell Ranch and couldn’t tell if it was open. It was a Tuesday morning and the roads were quiet so we decided to drive in to make sure. The ranch was open and we were immediately chatting with the friendly family members that own the place. We even got introduced to one of the youngest generation of farmers on this land, a tot on a push toy being entertained by his grandma, ranch co-owner, Nancy Colwell.
I noticed time and time again in this area how accessible the owners of the mandarin farms are and how much they seem to enjoy meeting visitors and chatting. At Colwell Ranch we met more and more family members as they strolled in to ask each other questions or see how we were doing as we browsed the gift shop area.
Our favorite part of this farm was the olive oil tasting bar. I haven’t been olive oil tasting in years and this place produces their own flavored oils using citrus from the ranch and olive oil from a friend’s property nearby. I was immediately getting seconds of the meyer lemon olive oil and thinking of the hundreds of ways I could use it at home. My friend Kim couldn’t get enough of the mandarin olive oil with it’s more subtle flavor and seasonal appeal. Colwell mandarin and lemon crushed olive oils are 100% natural, cold pressed and unfiltered. They combine the rich flavor of fresh citrus with the smooth and enticing taste of mild mission olives. This rocess captures both the sweetness of the fruit and the delicate oils from the rind, and combines it with the orchard fresh, savory, and mild taste of recently harvested mission olives.
We also got to try the honey produced on the farm and they had large squeeze bottles available with subtle notes of mandarin and blackberry blossoms from the crops that the bees frequent throughout the summer months.
Large bags of mandarins and lemons are also available for purchase along with mandarin chocolate syrup and other food products made with local fruit like mandarin BBQ sauce, pepper sauce and more.
Colwell Thundering Herd Ranch is open at 2500 Penryn Rd., Penryn, CA throughout mandarin season. Call for hours and availability at 916-663-1050 and products are available for online ordering