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Montesino Ranch MORE THAN AN ORGANIC FARM BY ASHLEY M. HALLIGAN T R AV E LI N G A LO N G LI T T LE A R K A N S A S ROA D N OT FA R FROM

meandering along the Blanco River’s rocky banks and eventually alongside vast ranches thousands of acres wide (many of which are the former property of one of the country’s most powerful late attorneys, John O’Quinn), lies a quaint ranch and organic farm – Montesino Ranch. If there were a winding backroad in a children’s story, Montesino would be the enchanting farm amidst canyons and valleys where a river popped-up and captured a child’s eyes with its cozy charm, evoking imagination and curiosity. Scott and Brenda Mitchell are Montesino’s owners, which includes a handful of diverse ecosystems within its 172 supple acres. The farm is operated by on-site managers MONTESINO RANCH Melody McClary and David Burk. Melody 300 Little Arkansas Road described the many stratified environWimberley, Texas 78676 ments at Montesino, “The front nine acres montesinoranch.com is old river bottom. It’s the only cultivated thefarm@montesinoranch.com part of the property and has excellent soil. There are a few pastures where our small herd of cattle, donkeys and goats graze. We have a couple of amazing canyons that have wet weather springs and waterfalls. There’s also a great trail that leads all over the ranch. Montesino’s truly in Hill Country and home to what we call ‘Montesino Mountain.’” There’s also a half acre of private river access along the Blanco just across the road offering a peaceful opportunity to frolic in the shallow, cerulean depths of the river and its rocky trails. WIMBERLEY ’S TOWN CENTER,

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With all of its treasures nestled into its rather small acreage (in comparison to neighboring ranches), Montesino happily began welcoming visitors this spring for farm-stays in newly built, modern studios, tucked away at the end of a red dirt drive and sunflower rows, overlooking the laborious morning workings of Melody, David and their two farm workers, Adam Levine and Chris Jamison. Farmstays are becoming increasingly popular as the organic, local and thoughtful food movement progresses and with that, the curiosity of consumers and the desire to expel the hustle of their lives in exchange for a serene few days on a farm. It’s quite fortunate that the promising soil was discovered, since the property was secretly (and uncharacteristically) fertile when purchased by the Mitchells. Melody told the story (over Bourbon, vinyl records and handmade, fried Thai baskets made with Montesino beef), “Scott and Brenda bought the ranch about twelve years ago. Scott’s an architect and has designed all of the unique structures found at Montesino. One of my favorite things to do is to pull out all of the maps of Montesino over the years and see the progression of their vision. Some of the very first residents were the small herd of miniature cattle.” She placed a spicy, Thai chili pepper sauce on the table and continued, “The farm came almost by accident. The Mitchells were digging a deep hole one day, expecting to hit rock any second. They kept going and going and going. This isn’t common in Wimberley. They knew how to put this beautiful soil to good use. Now we grow tons of organic produce for the community. We are really excited to be able to welcome guests into our home and where we work. Everyone at Montesino is passionate about providing quality, organic and local produce to our community and will do whatever it takes to reach more people.” The farm – picturesque, with its colorful barns and old cottage house, rows of organic fruits, veggies and flowers with a handpainted sign announcing their Saturday farmers market, an old tur-

PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY OF CFE ENTERPRISES, INC.

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quoise Ford and a barking farm dog, back-dropped by the sounds of feet, scurrying across the room to the folksy rhythms captured by music, Montesino is a simple escape. There’s a simplicity and hon- the telling barn walls. esty to a hand-nurtured, working farm that yields quality produce How would Melody and David spend three days at Montesino as and grass-fed beef. And common folk from the city (and beyond) are guests? “Man, just three days? I’d probably spend the first night in turning to such environments as quiet, introspective retreats from cooking up an awesome dinner at the studio. They have just about their own busy lives, seeking a popularly growing kind of accommo- everything you need in the kitchen and there’s a grill in the yard. dation in which one can be immersed into the very places our food Then I’d wake up early and walk to [the] pavilion to see the sun rise resources are first born. or down by the river. There is a beautiful heron who likes to spend Melody explained the fascination people have with visiting small- his morning on the banks. I’d probably have to go into town to drop scale farms like their own, “Being an organic farm allows our guests in By The Bridge [Antiques] and the RR 12 Farmers Market for a litto connect in a [real] way with where food comes from and what hap- tle shopping and then over to the Leaning Pear for lunch... Maybe a pens before they see it on their dinner plates. You don’t have to come game of Bocce ball and afternoon drinks... Then the Corral [Theater] here and work the farm to walk away valuing food more.” for an outdoor movie at dark. That would be a pretty busy day for me Offering more than amazing beets, potatoes, broccoli, peaches and so it’d call for a late brunch and then maybe a game of dominoes or grass-fed beef, Montesino has also created a handful of pretty spe- Clue. I could go the other way though and just hang out on the porch cial amenities and activities. Guests can now arrange a fishing trip and read a really big book!” booked through David, calling itself Lure and Lore, which is a guided My three days at Montesino were quite lateral to Melody’s idea of catch-and-release fishing trip on the beautiful banks of the Blanco farm-guest-perfection – if I could just add a visit to nearby Arnosky River. At no additional cost for guests and including all necessary Family Farm (texascolor.com) on a Sunday for their honor system baits and poles, David is happy to take the ranch’s curious visitors farmers market, offering the final touches for a perfect home-cooked to his favorite fishing holes that are rarely visited by those outside of meal at Montesino’s studios – local goat cheese chevre, hand-colthe Montesino treasure chest. He also promises a good story or two, lected eggs, Mexican Coca-Cola and bouhence the ‘Lore’ in its namesake. quets of Arnosky-family-picked (and Upcoming Events: Montesino is available for event rental, offering several structures grown) flowers. With an antique iron safe Barn Dance!! for events of different calibers, including a rustic bar at the base of and pencils to tally your items, you simply their mountain and a beautiful mountain-top pavilion that serves add up your dues and slip them into the safe Featuring the southern sounds of Sour Bridges, September 24, as a perfect ceremony or reception area. Additionally, Montesino – further exemplifying the very charm and 2011. Farm tour at 7 p.m. – with has begun featuring events and activities at the farm that are open trust that exists in this particularly cozy plenty of fall crops to see, music to the public, such as Pickin’ Parties where guests are encouraged to nook of Hill Country authenticity. Besides beginning around 8 p.m. (till bring their banjos and tambourines and spend a night pickin’ and that, Melody says it was Arnosky Family the evening ends). Entry is $15, playin’ as the sun quietly sets and settles over the ranch (just as its Farms that inspired her to become a farmer. B.Y.O.B., children under 12 are visitors tend to do). Barn dances are offered almost monthly, where So far, I’d say Melody and David are doing free, farm fresh eats TBD. their main barn becomes a stage for a local band and the barn floor quite well for themselves, their community becomes a busy dance floor, peppered with cowboy boots and happy and the rich land beneath their feet.

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September/October Issue Of Austin Lifestyle  

Featuring The Ballad Of Tapatio Springs (an area saved by George Strait & Tom Cusick, the coming musicians of Austin, and the girls of rolle...

September/October Issue Of Austin Lifestyle  

Featuring The Ballad Of Tapatio Springs (an area saved by George Strait & Tom Cusick, the coming musicians of Austin, and the girls of rolle...

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