We tasted a lot of nuts during our search for a family run farm to supply our pistachios. When we tasted the fresh roasted pistachios from Eagle Ranch Pistachio Groves in New Mexico, we realized immediately that we had found the perfect match. Their pistachios were fresh, nutty and creamy with a natural sweetness that had been roasted to perfection. This was the result of skilled farmers who spent as much time and energy with their pistachio trees as we do with our chocolates.
In 1974, George and Marianne Schweers were searching for a crop that would grow in desert conditions. They acquired 400, two-year-old pistachio trees that became their family farm - little did they know what was in store!
George and Marianne along with their three children, Gordon, Laura, and Jean did the farming. After work, after school, weekends – the days were filled with farming, all done by hand. The first expansion of the groves was a 700 tree planting done with the help of the high school baseball team (Gordon was on the team and they were always looking for a fundraiser). Each subsequent expansion brought its own set of challenges. Being the only grove in New Mexico, there was no support industry for harvesting or processing. They had to develop their own processing operation or truck the nuts out of state for processing. Fabricating equipment, buying used machinery, and trucking the nuts for salting and roasting were all ongoing projects in the early years. Necessity truly is the mother of invention!
Eagle Ranch is now home to New Mexico's largest producing pistachio groves. The farm contains 85 acres with approximately 12,000 trees. Daily field care, harvesting, processing, and marketing the finished product all take place on the ranch. A vineyard was added in 2003 that supports the new "Heart of the Desert" line of wines. If you are in New Mexico, George and Marianne will gladly offer you a tour of their farm. Visit them at www.eagleranchpistachios.com for more details.