La Nogalera Walnut Oil is the product of the combined efforts of three walnut growers in Santa Barbara County. Our name comes from the Spanish “nogal” which means walnut; a nogalera is a place where walnuts are grown. Our ranches have a heritage from the days of the old Spanish Land Grants and our walnut orchards are some of the last remaining walnut orchards in this cool Central Coast area of California. The orchards are located along the Santa Ynez River between Buellton and Lompoc. Hibbits Ranch is located on the west about twelve miles from the Pacific Ocean. Edalatpour Ranch is located about fourteen miles upstream and Rancho La Viña is located approximately half-way between.
Each ranch utilizes the natural assets of deep, fertile soils, cool, coastal fog climates, as well as conservative, environmentally sound management practices to produce walnuts of excellent quality and flavor. A blend of the most recently harvested walnuts from these historic ranches results in a premium walnut oil which is unmatched worldwide –– both in terms of flavor and aroma. It is perhaps not by coincidence, that this same growing area is the renowned Santa Rita Hills wine appellation, home of Pinot Noir and other fine wines with uniquely intense aromatic flavors likely resulting from similar favorable soil, climate and management factors.
Starting in 2004, we selected walnuts from each of our ranches based on quality and flavor. The resulting blend of walnuts is a remarkably delicious oil.
There are now over one hundred different varieties of walnuts recognized worldwide. Many of the recently developed varieties dominate the walnut market due to their large size, lighter nut color and higher orchard yields. Yet their taste is noticeably different. Just as with strawberries, tomatoes and many other agricultural products today, flavor and aroma have taken a back-seat to appearance and size. By contrast, the walnuts used in La Nogalera Walnut Oil come from older heritage varieties such as Concord, Placentia, Payne and Lompoc. The Lompoc variety was developed by Gene Serr, Pomologist at UC Davis on Hibbits Ranch about fifty years ago. The other mentioned varieties in our walnut oil date back nearly 100 years. All are flavor-packed in comparison to many of the newer walnut varieties.
Our oil is made in California but in a traditional French manner, first roasting the shelled walnuts before pressing to enhance the flavor. The walnuts used in La Nogalera Walnut Oil are selected for intense flavors –– our walnuts are flavor-packed in comparison to many of the new and improved walnut varieties. La Nogalera Walnut Oil contains no additives of any kind, and no preservatives.
The oil is delicious used alone for dipping bread and also wonderful in salad dressing, drizzled over cooked fish or steak, tossed with pasta and fresh herbs, tossed with steamed vegetables or used when baking cakes or muffins for a rich nutty flavor. Some say it’s a wonderful topping to ice cream and chocolate cake or brownies. It is an amazingly versatile oil.
Our oil should be refrigerated once opened and is probably best used within six months. However, our tests indicate a very stable product, with at least a two year shelf life when stored unopened in a cool place. Although walnut oil has the same approximate smoke point as olive oil, we recommend cooking at medium to low temperatures to preserve the unique roasted nut aroma.