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Ranching

Santa Margarita Ranch is one of the oldest continuously operated cattle ranches in the state of California. Beef cattle were introduced to the area by Franciscan missionaries in 1774 and have remained prominent on the ranch ever since. Today, Santa Margarita Ranch continues this tradition with its commercial cow calf operation.

Ancient Peaks Winery proprietors Doug Filipponi and Karl Wittstrom are both longtime local ranchers who have overseen the ranch’s cattle operations since 2002. The young steers raised at Santa Margarita Ranch are sold to the renowned Harris Ranch. Santa Margarita Ranch belongs to Harris Ranch’s Natural Beef Program and Partnership for Quality.

Creeping wild rye, slender wheatgrass, purple needlegrass and danthonia oatgrass are some of the native grasses that are naturally reestablishing themselves as a result of the progressive rangeland management practices employed by the ranch over the last decade. These same practices have resulted in a proliferation of young native oak trees. Santa Margarita Ranch’s conservation practices have been used to demonstrate the effectiveness of good rangeland management in numerous USDA seminars.