Today we talk with Kate Grissom about this coming weekend’s Tehama Trail Passport Weekend event. Kate is Rolling Hills Casino’s marketing director, and the current president of the Tehama EDC.
She is also a leader in the Tehama County Branding Project, as well as Expect More Tehama, a higher education initiative. Kate and her husband own Enjoy the Store in Downtown Red Bluff, something Kate says she and her husband do as a tribute to the community they love. Kate says she is is continuously inspired to enhance the quality of life in the north state by being a champion of it.
Q: Welcome, Kate, to anewscafe.com. The Tehama Trail Passport Weekend sounds interesting. I know the basics of the Tehama Trail Passport Weekend. It’s this weekend, June 1 and 2, from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. And it takes place along the “Tehama Trail” – which we’ll talk more about in a second.
I know that it’s an opportunity to explore family farms, and experience the journey “from field to fork” … meaning there are many things to taste along the way.
Passports cost $20 and include a free tasting glass, samples at all destinations and special discounts. Passports and the Tehama Trail maps are can be found at Enjoy the Store in both Redding and Red Bluff.
There, now that we have those details covered, can you tell us exactly what – and where – is the Tehama Trail?
The Tehama Trail is a journey across the rural communities that grow this wholesome food. Your adventure begins in Corning, where you’ll visit world-class olive and olive oil producers. Your map is your guide, so you’ll know exactly where to go and how to get there.
Q: OK, Corning. Where else?
A short drive east finds you in Vina where the monks of the Abbey of New Clairveaux practice ancient traditions of grape growing and wine making.
As you make your way north to the family vineyards nestled in the quiet town of Manton, you’ll find an abundance of roadside attractions and produce stands worth exploring. After you’ve sampled unique volcanic wines crafted near the base of Mt. Lassen and enjoyed sweeping views of the agricultural valleys and surrounding forests, Tehama Trail guides you south through oak-studded foothills to Historic Downtown Red Bluff where quaint shops and riverfront dining welcome you.
Q: When you describe those areas, I’m reminded of the vastness of Tehama County, with a range of elevations and subclimates, too.
Right. Situated in the fertile northern Sacramento Valley, Tehama County is host to a rich and diverse ecosystem, which yields some of the finest produce in the world: specialty meats, wine grapes, colorful tomatoes, juicy fruit, succulent olives, crunchy almonds and meaty walnuts, to name a few.
Q: It sounds like a side benefit of the Tehama Trail Passport Weekend is it’s a way to honor these food producers, and related businesses.
Exactly. The Tehama Trail is a celebration of our community’s agricultural heritage, but it is also a celebration of collaboration! Over 25 businesses uniting to promote their collective experiences. It’s incredible to experience the willingness, cooperation and reward of these partnerships at work.
Q: I should have asked this sooner, but how was the Tehama Trail project born?
The short answer is that farmers throughout the region established the Tehama Trail partnership to bring awareness to the abundance of good food right here in our community.
In 2009, I joined a local effort to coordinate and map a journey through key agricultural areas of the county called the Tehama Trail. Through Rolling Hills marketing department, we created a high quality map and implemented a strategic plan to leverage the group’s visibility through coordinated and cooperative marketing efforts. Today, the Tehama Trail leadership team delivers a 3-part strategy to Trail partners; agri-tourism, implementation of a comprehensive marketing plan and distribution/broker opportunities.
The Tehama Trail includes 24 partners, with many agricultural experiences incorporating wine tasting at local vineyards, olive and olive oil tasting from local growers, produce from local fruit and vegetable stands, and shops in downtown Red Bluff.
Q: This is the Tehama Trail Passport Weekend’s third year. How is this year different from the previous two?
This year, the Tehama Trail has grown from around 15 partners to 25, and has added partners who produce products besides olives, olive oil and wine. Additionally, purveyors of Tehama Trail products – Enjoy the Store in Redding and Red Bluff – and family businesses who support the farmers, such as A&R Custom Butchering, have been added as Trail partners. These farmers realize the value of collaborative marketing, retail and distribution.
This year, trail go’ers will experience up to 25 different stops; each celebrating the uniqueness of their product brands and farm.
Q: Rain or shine?
Yes, The Passport Weekend, and agri-tourism experience will happen rain or shine. Prepare to bring a light coat when experiencing the Mountain Valley Wines of Manton, and a T-shirt for the family farms in the valley as it could be very warm!
Q: This might seem a bit off topic, but Tehama County’s branding is right in line with this weekend’s event. Coincidence?
Not at all! The Tehama Trail experience was born prior to the start of Tehama County’s branding efforts. However, there is an overlap in vision and in leadership. Creating a brand for a community should not be forced; it’s about identifying what is intrinsically there and celebrating it!
Q: Gosh, Tehama County could teach Shasta County a few things about branding, IMHO. Poor Shasta County. We have no identity. Same with Redding, again, in my opinion. Not that anyone’s asked me, but if I were queen of Redding I’d create branding around its trails and bridges. Period. But I digress. We were talking about Tehama County. Sorry.
With this event, it’s as if the organizers have tapped into more than just a geographical brand, right?
Right. Tehama Country is not just a place, it’s a lifestyle. It’s playing in the great outdoors, whether your passion is fly fishing, hiking, horseback riding, snowmobiling, kayaking or seriously leaning your motorcycle over in that never ending series of curves called Highway 36. If your passions lean more to the tame side, gear up to hunt that trophy antique, shop at a roadside produce stand, taste wines grown from rich volcanic soil, or taste olive oil from century-old olive groves.
Whether you taste wine at the peak of its vintage or climb the peak known as Lassen, you will find your adventure in Tehama Country. Tehama Trail is certainly part of the Lassen Adventure.
Q: What’s great about this event is the way the farmers and food producers are the rock stars for the day. All year they work so hard to bring us incredible local edible products. This is their time to shine.
Absolutely. You know, it’s said that a farmer’s work is never done, and that’s so true. Tehama County farmers work from sunup to sundown, and sometimes they don’t return from the fields until after dark. Our farmers love what they do and enjoy sharing the fruits of their labor with you and your family.
And they need to feed their families, too. In order to do this at a sustainable level, they must sell their products — in other words, they rely on you to survive. If you value your farmers and appreciate open, working landscapes, purchase local products. In return, you and your family can enjoy fresh, safe, nutritious food — food grown just down the road
Q: Gosh, you sound like a marketing person! OK, so we know we’ll get to meet the farmers and food producers. What else?
Trail go’ers can expect a wide variety of things to do, taste and see; artisanal food, live music, wine tasting, exclusive farm tours, and above all, great people who are eager to share their stories.
Q: Two days seems just about right if you’re going to see it all and sample everything. Which reminds me, people who attend this event should arrive hungry, right?
Not only should they arrive hungry, but they are encouraged to pace themselves! Most Trail stops will feature a unique product sampling, and there are many great places to dine along the way.
Q: I can see why you’d feel so proud and passionate about the Tehama Trail Passport Weekend. The event sounds pretty spectacular. And weather forecasts are predicting sunny skies. Happy Tehama Trails Passport Weekend to you, Kate. It sounds like a delicious and interesting couple of days. Thank you for taking time from your planning to talk with us.
We hope you enjoy the flavors of Tehama County. And please, while you’re here, introduce yourself and shake the hand that grew your food!
Independent online journalist Doni Chamberlain founded what’s now known as anewscafe.com in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke of the Czech Republic. Prior to 2007 Chamberlain was an award-winning newspaper opinion columnist, feature and food writer recognized by the Associated Press, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and E.W. Scripps. She lives in Redding, CA.