Ron Mansfield grew up in Bakersfield, California. As a child Ron enjoyed spending time on his grandfathers cattle and cotton ranch with his siblings. Upon graduating from High School, Ron attended UC Davis where he studied Horticulture and Renewable Resources.
Weekend trips from Davis to South Lake Tahoe exposed Ron to the Apple Hill growing region of El Dorado County, California. The region spoke to Ron and he new he would one day return. That opportunity arose when the El Dorado Irrigation District began to implement the state of the art Irrigation Management System in the late 1970's. Ron joined EID, and helped shape the IMS program which allowed growers to receive accurate in field, soil moisture measurements. The IMS program is still in existence today and serves as a conservation example to agricultural regions across the world.
As the Pear Blight took it's toll on the region, many generational ranches began to turn over or fall into distress. In 1979, Ron was offered the opportunity to manage the re-development of an aging Pear orchard in the heart of Apple Hill for Al Fenaughty, an emerging technology developer. Ron's vision of vertical control of diverse specialty commodities struck Fenaughty. The two embarked on decades long relationship that recently culminated with Ron purchasing the ranch from the Fenaughty Family in 2017.
Ron at the original farmstand retail location in 1985
Al Fenaughty and Ron planted emerging specialty crops that included staples still in the Goldbud product line-up today like Gala and Fuji Apples. Some renown products have come and gone like the vaunted Goldbud Bing Cherries or the Goldbud Perfecta Pear. Other items were quick to fade like Indian Corn, squash and Iris Flowers. Al and Ron were always willing to risk and experiment with what they could grow, and only continued with items that could be perfected.
In the early days, everything was sold retail at the rustic farm stand. However, that quickly began to change when David Berkeley tasted the Bing Cherries. David had a high end provisions store in Sacramento and immediately began to carry all of Ron's tree fruit options. Shortly after, Henry Wainer tried one of Ron's peaches at a food show in Walnut Creek. Henry was the 3rd generation operator of a specialty fish, meat and produce distributor in New Bedford, Massachusetts that mainly serves Martha's Vineyard. Sid Wainer and Son Company still has an exclusive on the product in that market to this day.
In the early 1980's, Steve Edmunds, an emerging winemaker from Berkeley, convinced Ron to plant Syrah wine grapes at the Fenaughty Ranch. One of the few plantings of that variety at the time, it immediately caught the attention of winemakers. Local El Dorado County wineries began to hire Ron to develop and manage their vineyards with the directive to drive quality with the same precision and passion applied to the tree fruits.
Goldbud Farms has found great success and notoriety with the Rhone Varieties of Syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre as well as many more eclectic emerging wine varities. Goldbud now boasts a stable of talented winemakers who work with the exclusive vineyard plantings. Steve Edmunds is still a client to this day with his world renown Edmunds St. John label. At over 40 years old, The Fenaughty Syrah block is still healthy and full of life as it grows on it's own roots in Apple Hill's Aiken Clay Loam soils.
These key relationships led to slow but steady growth by word of mouth among high end provisioners, chefs and celebrities across the United States. Goldbud has served every US President from Reagan to Obama. Goldbud Farms Extra Fancy Tree Ripe Fruit is available nowadays in select exclusive key accounts in San Francisco, New York, Martha's Vineyard, Chicago, Detroit, Dayton and St. Louis. Commercial clients have been known to wait years on the waitlist to aqcuire the fruit or wine grapes. However, once access is gained, few ever look elsewhere.
Goldbud Farms cares for a handful of strategic properties in El Dorado County. We believe the region is very unique. Our elevation allows for extremely slow ripening of both tree fruit and wine grapes. We can achieve sugar levels on tree fruit that are often double the industry standard without sacrificing a hint of balancing acidity or texture.
Farming in the mountains comes at great risk. Goldbud faces a gauntlet of climate risks all year round. Snow slows our ability to prune and prep for the season in the winter. Risk of freeze doesn't fade until well into the growing season and emerges again before harvest is over. Hail is always a heartbeat away as towering Cumulonimbus systems form over the Tahoe Basin daily in the summer. Wildfires on a megalithic scale burn regularly just miles away from the orchards. If the crop fails or is compromised, it never sees the market. Only the worlds best is branded Goldbud. We put our product up against any grower in the world, anytime, anywhere.
Every practice is performed by hand. Pruning takes place in the dead of winter. Our tree teams move through the orchards and remove excess vegetative growth from the previous season. After fruit set, we hand thin each tree. Separating the fruit, bringing the trees into balance and removing any damaged fruitlets.
Harvest occurs each day, and every piece of fruit is inspected 3 times before the box is closed. First in the filed, second by our 4 sorters and ultimately before the lid is closed.
Goldbud adheres to Integrated Pest Management strategies. We utilize the most effective and best organic materials and techniques where appropriate and combine them with the safest and most effective conventional materials when needed. Items grown Certified Organic are clearly labeled as such. This strict IPM approach greatly reduces our fossil fuel burn and reduces our geographical farming footprint. We believe IPM is the best farming system for providing sustainable, reliable, nutritious food for the world's population.