Gjelina Group Goes to the Market
Bittersweet end of summer: Munak Ranch
This Week at the Market
Written by Sam Rogers, Gjelina Group’s Farm Liaison
It’s that time of the year again when we must finally say goodbye to Munak Ranch’s tomatoes. As the weather turns cold (well, a Southern California kind of cold, anyway) the Gomez family of Munak Ranch packs up their trucks and heads south to their winter home in Mexico. However, once they get there, it’s back to farming. This time it’s corn, peppers and onions — through the “off season.”
Munak Ranch is located in Paso Robles, CA. Originally owned by Ed and Pearl Munak, an aerospace engineer and a lawyer, the Munaks chose to leave city life behind, move somewhere rural, and grow food they would enjoy eating. The Munaks have been growing organically from the beginning and were some of the founding members of the California Organic Growers. The place they chose to start has the particular features of a wide temperature range between day and nighttime temperatures, warm soil from geothermal energy, and well-drained and aerated soils. These factors combine to make sweet, crisp, and richly-flavored produce… and a tomato season that lasts unusually long.
Hugo Gomez, their farm manager for over 20 years, inherited the farm after Ed’s passing, though Pearl still lives on the ranch. Hugo’s children have grown up there and now even Hugo’s grandchildren are helping with the sungold cherry tomato harvest. This year was the most difficult in memory as the extreme drought continued, forcing Hugo to make the expensive and risky choice to dig a third well. Though in true Hugo Gomez manner, he found the silver lining, “We are so excited to get to grow more now that we have the water to do it!” he says, smiling slightly. Their love for the land is felt in the sweetness of their melons and heirloom tomatoes.
Henry’s Favorite Wine of the Week: Andi Fausto Frodo Pinin
Written by Henry Beylin, Gjelina Group’s Wine + Beverage Director
"Sometimes the only answer to death is lunch" - Jim Harrison
Yes. The best wines are ones that most fit the mood or occasion. It's been a tough year, and with Covid cases rising everywhere, it's about to get tougher. What happens when we run out of letters from the Greek alphabet by the way? I don't want a wine of contemplation these days. Pure outward pleasure is called for. Not beguiling or inherent but in your face and slightly loud. I want to taste flavors that are obvious, honest, straightforward and direct. Here's Andi Fausto Frodo Pinin.
This is from the province of Pavia in Lombardia and made from the Moradella grape. It's generous and comforting. Big, bold, round and soft. Lots of dark fruit, raisin even, with warming spice and balsam. The combination of sweet and bitter is a common feature of many Italian wines but it's intense here. An orgy of extraction.
Wines like these are necessary. They don't require anything of you. A simple pleasure can be the most profound. Sit back and drink and contemplate nothing.