There seems to be something special for prospective retirees about the 83-acre ranch located in the southern reaches of Napa Valley.

In 2000 Richard Dickson retired from his long career in manufacturing in the Bay Area. He and wife Lillian moved to the ranch on Jamison Canyon Road, which they called Dickson Ranch and where they first planted 1,200 Taggiasca olive trees along with cabernet and merlot vineyards.

This was also the year Dick’s mother, Regina, passed away. Their gorgeous extra virgin olive oil was named “Regina” in her honor.

Fast forward to fall 2016 when octogenarian’s, Dick and Lillian decided it was time to step away from the ranch and see the world. No grass growing under their feet, that’s for sure.

Enter another family from the Bay Area, looking for a place to retire in Napa Valley and be closer to their children and first grand child, 15 month old Joseph. Their son Christopher still resides in San Jose. They thought, maybe a place with a few acres for a nice big garden and a couple of critters. For whatever reason, the search for just the right property was longer and more difficult than expected.

When a local Realtor suggested they take a drive up and look at Dickson Ranch, the Bahues agreed, but knew this might just be a nice drive. After all, 86 acres would be a really big garden.

As Greg Bahue told me, when they made their way up the driveway to the ranch, the vista that presented itself was something that simply said “Wow.”

Not what they were looking for, not what they expected and in the end, not just a nice drive.

Greg and his wife of 34 years, Phyllis are now the proud owners of the 83 acres. From New Jersey to California in 1981, years in the publishing business in Silicon Valley, followed by an interesting repertoire of entrepreneurial successes, and here they are, stepping into yet another career adventure: They are now farmers.

The fruit of their vineyard will probably find a good home, as both his daughter, Jacqueline and son-in-law Dan are local winemakers.

The future of the artisan extra virgin olive oil, aka extra virgin olive oil, looks to be in good hands, as well.

As I spoke with Greg I was pleased to learn that his goal is to be a “good steward of the product” created by the Dicksons who have entrusted him with the care of the oil. He’s appreciative of the secrets that were shared and is humbled to now be the person looking out for the groves.

Dickson Ranch will now be known as Canyon Hills Ranch. The Regina extra virgin olive oil? Well, I really like what the Bahues have decided here. Wanting to continue to honor Dick’s mother, the oil will be known as Regina Grove. This kind of respect for what Dick and Lillian built says a lot to me.

The Dickson’s left big shoes to fill because their oils have been so well respected. In 2009 Regina was the first, and only, U.S. extra virgin olive oil to ever win the coveted ALMA Trophy. The international group TRE-E defined Regina as a “Super Premium Olive Oil.”

Gold medals have been awarded during many respected competitions from Los Angeles to NYC to the Armonia competition in Spoletto, Italy. The London Times Magazine extra virgin olive oil guru Tom Mueller cited Regina as his “favorite U.S. extra virgin olive oil ... made the way I wished they made it in my home region of Liguria, Italy.” The Wine Spectator listed it in their annual “Things We Like.” In the past, Regina oil was used by many chefs at local restaurants.

Greg was kind enough to share the Regina Grove from the November 2016 latest harvest with me. As always, I was impressed by this mono cultivar extra virgin olive oil with characteristics offering consistent moderate fruit up front, followed by a recognizable pleasant slight bitter mid-palate and the picante (not overpowering or too intense) I need at the finish for a number of dishes I prepare.

Greg’s not letting any grass grow under his feet either when it comes to educating himself in both viticulture and olive oil chemistry. At this time Greg is using many of the same trusted grove managers and workers who worked closely with the Dicksons.

This gives me, and the many loyal Regina extra virgin olive oil fans, hope that the oil will continue to be something unlike any other oil in the Valley.

In interviewing Greg I must admit that I had two goals in mind. One, to gather interesting information to share with my readers and two, which is totally selfish, to be sure that one of the two local oils I rely on for my olive oil tasting experiences (the other is Grove 45) and for my own culinary pleasures will be cared for, respected, protected and available to stash in my own cupboards in the future. I have a good feeling about this.

During this transition period I suggest that if you need to restock your oil or wish try oils from the Regina grove at this time you reach out directly to the Bahues at www.chrnapa.com

Italian Salad Dressings — Three Versions

Version 1:

1 clove garlic, peeled

2 Tbsp. authentic balsamic vinegar

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 tsp. honey

1/4 tsp. sea salt

1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Version 2:

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

3 Tbs. red wine vinegar

2 Tbs. finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese

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1 tsp. sugar

1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

3/4 teaspoon sea salt

1 clove garlic

Version 3:

1/4 cup rice vinegar

2 Tbs. water

2 small cloves garlic—crushed with the flat side of a large knife blade

Pinch of sea salt

1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1 generous pinch dried sweet basil

2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley

2/3 cups extra virgin olive oil

For any of these recipes simply add the ingredients into cruet (or glass jar with a lid) and shake. They are best if made 24 hours in advance and chilled. After 24 hours, remove and discard the garlic. Dressings will last a week in the refrigerator.

Mangia Bene!

Diane De Filipi lives in the Napa Valley and leads cooking tours to Italy and Burgundy, France. Visit letsgocookitalian.com or ila-chateau.com/cook-italian for more information.

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