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Rafter W Ranch has always promised to improve the land while providing the most healthy, nutrient-dense food for our customers. Additionally, we are happy to offer these educational tidbits about our products, processes, and vision. But there’s also a simple, exceptional enjoyment to be found when nature, instead of an obstacle to overcome, is a partner in production. Terroir is one example of the kind of delight that is part of what we do.

What is terroir?

Terroir is a term often used by those in the wine industry, and the connoisseurs of its product. It refers to the nuances of flavor brought into a wine from the geography of the area where its grapes are grown. The mineral profile of the soil, the specific ecosystem of that vineyard, even the weather of a growing season all come into play and put their own subtle stamps on the finished product.

But terroir is certainly not limited to wine. The local food movement has highlighted the uniqueness of food products as to region and producer, and beef is no exception. The terroir of beef plays a bigger part in grass-fed meat, of course, since tens of thousands of animals are unlikely to be eating precisely the same diet for weeks on end as they would in a feedlot.

What elements affect beef’s terroir?

You are what you eat, as they say, and the same is true of cattle. Grass-fed is almost too simple a term, as pastured beef are given a veritable salad bar of grasses, herbs, ‘weeds,’ and legumes (alfalfa, pea vines, etc). Not only do these plants influence the final taste of the beef, but the conditions under which they are grown have their own impact. Is the pasture (or hay field) in an area of high rainfall? Volcanic, limestone, sandy or loamy soil? In the mountains? On the coast? The salt marsh grasses along the coast of Normandy, France, produce lamb known as agneau de pré-salé – literally, “pre-salted.” Every area has its own geography and climate that affect the flavor of the animals that are raised there.

What does that mean for dinner?

Dining, like wine-tasting, can be an opportunity to explore flavors, enjoy the edible manifestations of a specific environment, and even appreciate the craft of the producers who manage and improve the soil and forage where their cattle graze. It won’t be a plain-vanilla, narrow spectrum of flavor (based on corn and soy) as would be found in the conventional supermarket, but a richer, more varied experience for your palate.

How do I get some of this?

We’re glad you asked. Rafter W Ranch raises our beef on 100% salad bar. No grain, no soy, no GMOs, ever. Experience the terroir unique to our Simla ranch, and let us know what you think! Our products are available to order in our shop.