The Ryan Ranch, between Bodega and Occidental, is nearing its 130-year anniversary. Founded in 1887 by Andrew Fitzpatrick, the ranch was purchased to harvest lumber and raise dairy cattle. Now, the ranch is primarily grazing land for cattle. For six generations, going on seven, the family has worked together to maintain and care for the land.
When the Denner family purchased their ranch the 1890’s, it was growing winegrapes, but the vines were removed and the ranch transitioned through many other crops. Over the years, the ranch has raised horses for the U.S. Calvary, hogs, potatoes, hops, beef and dairy cattle, corn silage and hay. Now the family has come full circle and grows winegrapes in addition to raising beef cattle.
Dr. Fred Groverman, 83, has spent a lifetime as a beloved veterinarian but also as a shepherd of his Shropshire flock which he raises on a 50 acre farm that’s been in his family since the early 1900’s. Groverman and his wife are positive that they want to land to stay in agriculture. They also have a dream that the property could be used to help educate the next generation about agriculture.
Twin brothers Henry and John Himbauch bought two 415 acre parcels on Petaluma Hill Road in August of 1848. Nearly 160 years later, Henry Himbauch’s great-great-grandson, Henry James Anderson, and his family still operate approximately 300 acres of the original parcel. Today, the family grows winegrapes and runs beef cattle and has plans to keep the ranch running far into the future.
Robert Young Estate Winery
Peter Young immigrated to New York in the early 1800’s and came to California in the 1850’s for the Gold Rush. He settled on 120 acres in Alexander Valley, where he raised cattle for leather and sheep. At their peak, the Young family had more than 700 head of sheep, raised grain and herds of cattle. Today, the Young family farms 317 acres of winegrapes.
The Gambonini family has been farming in Petaluma for nearly 150 years, passing down their family ranch off Lakeville Highway for the last 104 years. Frank Gambonini runs the ranch alongside his wife Stacey, and the couple has three daughters who are actively involved in the ranch and the dairy industry. The next generation is enthusiastic and passionate about keeping the dairy in the family.
Established Late 1800’s
On West Third Street in Santa Rosa you’ll find the Imwalle family’s produce store where four generations have sold produce to Santa Rosa residents. Joe Imwalle, 76, has run the family business since he was 24 years old and still works 12 hour days alongside his son and partner, Charles. Imwalle and his family still have 17 acres which have been growing local produce for more than 100 years.
Oak Ridge Angus
At 14 years old, Massimino LaFranchi emigrated from Switzerland in 1888 and made his living milking cows throughout Sonoma County. The family went on to start a dairy and raise award winning Aryshire cattle, before selling thier herd and buying Angus cattle in the 70’s. Today, the fourth generation is involved and the family is passionate about keeping thier land in agriculture.
Crane Melon Barn
Richard Crane came to California in 1849 as a gold miner before settling on the family’s property in 1852. The family’s iconic barn was built 16 years later out of redwood and the property was home to a prune orchard. Today the family is known for thier Crane Melon, a variety developed by the family and old sold seasonally at the farm. The family remains diversified as they also grow winegrapes and other crops.
Mark Vanoni emigrated from Switzerland with his wife Angelina in the mid 1800’s. They settled on the Central Coast, but a severe drought in 1898 caused the family to lose their dairy. Resettling in Geyserville, the family spent 40 years raising dairy cattle on the ranch, shipping butterfat by train. Today the Vanoni’s have a reputations for their cutting horses and raise beef cattle on their ranch.
Sonoma County Farm Bureau’s 2017 Farm Family of the Year has been farming apples in Graton for more than 100 years. Their business has developed and changed over time, and although the apple industry has proved challenging in the county, the family is passionate about apples and couldn’t imagine doing anything else saying they do it “because they love it.”
Sonoma County Farm Bureau’s 2016 Farm Family of the Year has been farming in the Dry Creek Valley for nearly 150 years. The early days of the ranch saw the family raising sheep, growing grapes and making wine to ship back to Sweden. The family has faced challenges over the years, but always managed to maintain their land and now grow grapes and raise cattle.