Christopher Schubert of Rancho La Viña.

Rachel Hommel

Christopher Schubert of Rancho La Viña.

Christopher Schubert of Rancho La Viña

Harvesting Premium Central Coast Walnuts

Name: Christopher Schubert

Farm: Rancho La Viña

Location: 8615 Santa Rosa Road, Buellton, CA 93427

What they grow: Certified organic premium walnuts and artisan walnut oils.

Where to buy: Farmers markets including Tuesday in downtown Santa Barbara, Thursday in Carpinteria, and Saturday in downtown Santa Barbara. The premium walnuts can also be purchased at Whole Foods, Lazy Acres, Mesa Produce, and featured on local menus including Seagrass and Wine Cask.

In season now: With harvest season currently in full swing, the premium walnuts include savory selections like cocoa chipotle, holiday spiced, and spicy cayenne pepper. Additionally, their walnuts are pressed with two other growers to make La Nogalera Walnut Oil, a popular market item.

Their story: Purchased in the 1860s by the Baer family, the 2,800-acre ranch grows about 185 acres of walnuts. Harvested at the peak of flavor, these certified organic walnuts have become a favorite at the markets.

“Our walnuts are lower in acid — they are very sweet and buttery,” said Christopher Schubert. “It’s an excellent product, very high in quality and nutrition.”

Grown in the Santa Rita Hills, the state’s walnut industry started on the Central Coast, and does well anywhere wine grapes grow. Family owned and operated, Rancho La Viña’s coastal growing area is key to the quality and taste of their walnuts.

“We keep our walnuts on the trees longer to increase their flavor,” said Schubert. “Because of the Central Coast climate, they don’t sunburn or dry out. And the flavored ones are just fun to sell!”

A long-time family friend, Schubert has worked the farmers markets for almost 10 years. A passionate employee, he loves promoting Rancho La Viña’s tasty treats.

“I do all the fun stuff!” said Schubert. “It’s the people; the social interface is the best part of working the markets. I love it.”

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