This month, I was lucky enough to travel to California to see the walnut harvest with a small group of invited influencers, nutritionists and journalists including Sorted Food, Nics Nutrition, Sepps, Kitchen with Cumbers and Sue Quinn.
We were joined by other global teams from India, Turkey, Japan and the States to experience this unique and fascinating process, organised by our client the California Walnut Board and Commission This is an annual event, but was the first time it was held since 2019 because of covid.
The whole trip was amazing and I was so lucky to get the opportunity. Here are my top five favourite moments:
The food (and drink)
I’ve worked with California Walnuts for almost 5 years and felt pretty clued up on its vast versatility, but on this trip, I ate walnuts in ways I had never eaten them before! As you can imagine, they featured in almost every dish we had, from candied walnuts to snack on, in salads with different dressings and spices, to a delicious squash and walnut soup, walnut cream with ravioli, a bourbon and walnut pie and even walnut beer!
We met nutritionists, journalists and influencers from across the globe. It was great to chat all things walnuts with them and general practises in their markets when it comes to content creation and PR to discover ways they work and where they differ from us. The UK team even ended up making a TikTok with team India on a boat in the middle of Lake Tahoe which was great fun!…
Talking of Lake Tahoe, which I would highly recommend visiting if you ever get the chance, we were fortunate enough to visit some other incredible places too, such as San Francisco, Napa Valley and Sacramento. The scenery was beautiful and although I had visited different parts of California before, I had never travelled through the heart of the State and appreciated the landscape. We drove past hundreds of orchards, vine yards, farms and agricultural land. We also got to visit Park Winters, which is a luxury country estate in the Californian countryside. Mainly used for events now, but it dates back to 1865! We also stopped off at Oxbox food market, which is a must if you’re visiting that part of the world. Think of an indoor Borough Market…
Meeting the multi-generational family, one of the largest growers in California, was an absolute privilege – and it was brilliant to see first hand the love and skill that grows into growing California Walnuts. They kindly invited us to watch the different processes of the walnut harvest and took the time to talk us through each stage. They also provided a magic lunch in the heart of their walnut orchard which homes around 130,000 trees! (Read more about the harvest here)
New facts on walnuts
I thought I knew all there was to know about walnuts, but, as they say, you never stop learning, and on this trip, we all discovered plenty of new things. At the Ranch, they grew three different types of walnuts – Chandler, Hartley and Howard. Of course, as they were California walnuts they all had a mild creamy taste – but what was fascinating was that each one was unique in taste, colour and size – so you could clearly tell them apart!