With their smooth, light and nutty taste, California walnuts really are the cream of the walnut crop. But what exactly is it that makes them so special? It all comes down to the very special place they’re grown. California is world-renowned for its blissful year-round sunshine and rich, diverse terra – and deservingly so.
Right at the heart of this magical state is the Central California Valley: often referred to as the ‘salad bowl’ of the USA. At 240 miles long and 50 miles wide, this majestic valley sits between the Sierra Mountains to the east, and the Pacific Coast Ranges to the west – and it’s here that California walnuts begin their journey.
Picture this. Some 66 million years ago (when sea levels were around 100 metres higher than they are today), parts of the Central California Valley began to flood frequently. The water used to gush in from the Pacific Ocean, through what we now know as the San Francisco Bay Area. This pattern continued for millions of years, until around five million years ago, when falling sea levels cut off the route from the valley to the ocean. At this point, much of the valley became an isolated saltwater lake, which gradually turned into a freshwater lake. Eventually (around 200,000 years ago), the lake dried up, leaving the valley with a rich, unique soil that’s perfect for growing fresh produce.
Combine this incredible soil quality with consistent seasonal weather conditions, hot summer temperatures upwards of 44°C, and a plentiful supply of clean, fresh meltwater straight from the Sierra Mountains, and you’ve got a recipe for walnut-growing success.
To find out more about how and where California walnuts are grown, visit our FAQs page.