I do so love farms. And when I say “farms”, I’m not talking factory farms. I’m talking small farms. Windrose farm is just one of those farms.

Sunday was almost one of the best days ever. This particular event was a farm tour/luncheon, sponsored by the San Luis Obispo Symphony. In fact, I gathered that it was a silent auction item at a recent benefit. I felt a little guilty, since we hadn’t “paid” for it… it was a gift from my mother-in-law, as she was unable to attend. When others shucked or clucked their teeth upon being told that, I let them know that they needn’t feel badly for her as she was on a plane to Maui that afternoon. If asked whether I would trade places with her… well, I’d actually need to pause a minute on that one. THAT’S how much I love small farms, people.

Our afternoon began with local wines and cheeses under an incredible oak tree. After spending the morning and early afternoon working on our new house in the 90 degree heat which is characteristic of Paso Robles, Tay and I pulled up to the farm feeling somewhat wilted. Anything east of Paso Robles is usually pretty much an oven, so we were incredibly surprised (and pleasantly so) to step out into a lovely breezy afternoon in the Creston canyons. When we mentioned this in our conversation over beer and wine, Farmer Bill Spencer explained that they’d found quite the unique micro-climate when they purchased Windrose back in 1990. What’s left of the ocean breezes which wind through the canyons of Highways 46 and 41 West make their way out to Windrose.

After an hour or so of “getting to know you” time, Farmer Bill announced that he’d like to take us on a tour of the farm, which he claimed could take anywhere from “10 minutes to… oh… who knows.” The tour took us through the allium fields, out to the stone-fruit orchard, past the potato sprouts, and through the greenhouses until we finally returned to the shade of that grand Oak. All along the way, Bill educated and entertained, quoted a dozen or so books, fielded questions with ease, and became my new local hero.

We chatted at the tables as the food came out little by little… platters of lamb riblets, a salad of tepary beans tossed with their home smoke-dried tomatoes and snap peas, steamed asparagus, a gorgeous chard-ricotta tart, and a lovely tossed green salad. Lucky for Tay, dessert came out just as we had to leave, rueful… lovely meyer lemon custards in individual tea-cups.

I was disappointed to learn that they no longer frequent any of the San Luis Obispo county farmers’ markets, but they can be found at the Saturday Santa Barbara and the Wednesday Santa Monica markets. Their heirloom tomato selection is phenomenal, they grow over 100 different varieties, and sell nursery plants at the markets as well as seasonal offerings. For those lucky enough to live here on the Central Coast, this year they’re opening a farm stand on their property coming soon. Check their website for more details.

I’ve resolved to return to Windrose’s nursery once we move into the new house to purchase some starts of heirloom tomatoes and herbs, since I was unable to plant my own seeds this year.

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