Long Meadow Ranch is a work in progress. Ted and Laddie Hall’s family home, working organic farm, award-winning winery and olive press, or frantoio, is a labor of love—as well as a bold affirmation of the Halls’ belief that you can only get back from life what you choose to put in.
Located in Napa Valley’s Mayacamas Mountains near St. Helena, California, the Halls’ restoration of the versatile 600-acre farm was modeled on a traditional pre-20th-century vintage Tuscan podere, or farm estate, where all aspects of life, home, and farm are fully integrated, complementary, and organic. "It’s all about natural cycles and balance," avows Ted, as he explains that each part of what they do at Long Meadow is dependent on the others for success.
Though he built a career and reputation as an expert on international economics, farming is not new to Ted. He grew up on small country acreage in Beaver County, Pennsylvania , and holds warm recollections of family gatherings in the farmhouse kitchen for marathon canning sessions at harvest time. His grandfather ran a grocery store, so the apple didn’t fall too far from the tree.
"We raised our own chickens," recalls Ted."Well, I had a goldfish," announces Laddie, who grew up in a suburb of Houston, Texas. Her life with Ted, however, has broadened her skills in animal breeding—she is an accomplished horsewoman, and Long Meadow’s Appaloosa horses and Pony of the Americas breed of ponies are a necessity in her life. When you include her organic-vegetable enterprise and her role as Ted’s most essential wine critic, appreciation of the Halls’ energetic approach to farming and life are readily understood.
Ted and Laddie purchased the timeless 100-year-old property in 1989. When they first saw the house, built in the late 1920s, it was sorely in need of renovation. However, its scale and proportions were immediately recognizable as pure rural Italian vernacular. Not surprising, says Ted, since the place was probably designed and built by immigrant Italian workers who were the first to settle and farm in the Napa area. Constructed from locally manufactured limestone blocks, the soft, honeyed cream color of the building supported its Italianate appearance. "People were surprised that we didn’t tear the old place down and build a McMansion," muses Ted. "Instead, we were very careful with our alterations, to stay within the footprint of the original building."