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California has BBQ?  We all know that Texas has its brisket, The Carolinas their pulled-pork, Kansas City their barbeque sauce, and what does California have?  Answer: the Santa Maria-style top-block sirloin, which is a celebrated Central California cut.  And the California tri-tip sirloin is also a popular cut that legend has it was created by a Santa Maria butcher.  But the tri-tip sirloin is just that: the tip.  There is so much more to California than Hollywood, earthquakes, Silicon Valley, and beautiful beaches.  California is one of the world’s largest economies on its own and much of that is rooted in the agricultural industry.

From grapes to cattle, from avocados to rice, California Rancher celebrates this tradition of agriculture and the very valuable contribution that is often overlooked or taken for granted.

Back to the Santa Maria-style top-block sirloin.  In the late 18th and early 19th centuries eras, when the territory became Spanish Las Californias and then Mexican Alta California, the missions and ranchos of California had large cattle herds for hides and tallow use and export.   At the end of the culling and leather-tanning season, large pit barbecues cooked the remaining meat. In the early days of California statehood after 1850 the Californios continued  the outdoor cooking tradition for fiestas.

When California gained statehood in 1850, the Santa Maria River valley drew farmers and other settlers as word of the rich soil and ideal growing climate spread.  Tending the ranches and farms was hard work and it was customary for the ranch hands to gather, relax, and often build a big wood fire for outdoor cooking.  Red oak became and remains the preferred outdoor cooking wood on the central California Coast due to local availability and to its distinct, sweet smoke.  Hence the Santa Maria-style BBQ was born.

California’s agricultural abundance is a reflection of the people who made the Golden State their home. In the process, they brought their agricultural heritage with them. Early California farmers and ranchers were the Spanish missionaries, followed by Mexicans, Japanese, Chinese and Russians. Today, nearly every nationality is represented in California agriculture.

With all of the culinary progress and evolution, we are back to our roots: all-natural ingredients and local food prepared simply and deliciously.

California Rancher embraces the tradition, spirit and flavors of the Golden State.  Enjoy.