Sacramento County’s Van Vleck cattle ranch celebrates 160th anniversary

When many of us consider Sacramento’s designation as the Farm-to-Fork capital of America, we usually envision fruits, vegetables and nuts on display at farmers markets, or touted at restaurants as seasonal specials (don’t forget the wines). Let’s pause to remember that beef, pork and lamb also are a vital part of the F2F mantra – seasonal, local, fresh, artisanal, organic, sustainable.

For instance, the Van Vleck Ranch sprawls across 12,000 acres in southeastern Sacramento County, the “next-door neighbor” of Rancho Murieta. Its herd of 2,000 cattle is mostly a cross-breed of Angus and American Wagyu, marketed under the Snake River Farms brand.

In celebration of its 160th anniversary, president Stan Van Vleck invited 50 folks from the food industry for a tour and lunch. Among them were top local chefs Patrick Mulvaney of Mulvaney’s B&L, Rick Mahan of Waterboy and One Speed, and Randall Selland of Ella and The Kitchen.

After a tour of the property, the group assembled for appetizers and a three-course meal at the ranch house that overlooks the Cosumnes River. There, wine and food authority Darrell Corti of Corti Bros. Market presented a bottle of French cognac to Van Vleck and his wife, Nicole Montna Van Vleck, managing partner of Montna Farms, which grows Japanese short grain rice. The 148-year-old cognac was decanted and passed around the table.

Of course, beef dominated the meat, in two cuts – New York strip and zabuton, a chewy steak from beneath the eye of the chuck, from the steer shoulder. Unfortunately, no seconds were served.

Allen Pierleoni: 916-321-1128, @apierleonisacbe