At the Hearst Ranches it’s always been our practice to treat the animals with great care. Our cattle live a completely natural existence as foragers and grazers. Grazing enhances a complex and balanced mosaic of native grasslands, which in turn maintains the vigor and distribution of these habitats, ensuring a sustainable food system. Well-managed grazing is one of the primary reasons for the excellent condition of the coastal prairie and native grasslands along the inland terraces. It keeps cattle on the range, fertilizes the land naturally, sustains a seasonal rhythm to the ranches and produces a remarkable meat whose flavor is the authentic taste of the American West.
The historic working landscape at Hearst Ranch will be preserved forever thanks to one of the largest land conservation easements in California history, a joint effort with the California Rangeland Trust, the American Land Conservancy and the State of California.
San Simeon – Piedra Blanca Rancho
Hearst’s Piedra Blanca Rancho has been an operating cattle ranch since the mid-1800, when George Hearst, a successful miner during the California Gold Rush era and later a US Senator, acquired ranch land in San Simeon. His holdings were approximately 48,000 acres with the initial purchase, but eventually grew to 270,000 acres.
George began the legacy of quality breeding and careful stewardship of the land and developed the ranch into one of the finest stock farms in the state, with prize cattle being sold for premium prices. Senator Hearst also had dairy, sheep, hog, poultry, orchards and Arabian horse operations at the ranch.
George’s son, the famous publishing tycoon William Randolph Hearst, continued the ranching operations. He also began building the fabled 161-room Hearst Castle on the ranch in 1919 and filling it with art treasures from around the world. Visitors to the Castle included United States presidents, Hollywood movie stars, foreign heads of state, and five-star generals.
The Castle was gifted to the State of California by the Hearst family in 1957 and is now one of the most popular tourist attractions in the State Park system.
The Hearst Corporation still operates the ranch surrounding the Castle, and the Hearst family takes great pride in this property and it is maintained to the highest of standards. The size, high quality of the rangeland, as well as the extremely diverse assemblage of plants and animals is what makes this ranch unique and a jewel of California’s Central Coast.
The Hearst Ranch Conservation Project protected the Ranch’s working landscape and conservation values: agricultural productivity, biodiversity, and scenic vistas and coastlines. Today the ranch surrounds the Hearst Castle and comprises 82,000 acres, one of the largest working cattle ranches on the California coast.
The Jack Ranch – Cholame Rancho
The 73,000-acre Jack Ranch in Cholame, California, was acquired in 1966 to complement the Hearst Ranch cattle operations. Cattle have been raised for many generations at the Jack Ranch, too. In fact, the Circle C brand used at the Jack Ranch is number 0002 in the California Brand Book making it the oldest registered brand in California still in use today. Together, the ranches provide enough grassland to sustain large herds on a nutritious, range-fed diet.
History of the Jack Ranch
Much of the land that now comprised the Jack Ranch was originally part of the Cholame Rancho, a 26,621 acre Mexican Land Grant given to Mauricio Gonzales in 1844 by Manuel Micheltorena, Governon of Mexico. The grant was denied, shortly thereafter, but was eventually confirmed to Gonzales’ daughter, Ellen C. White, in 1865.
In 1867 W.W. Hollister purchased the Cholame Ranch. Hollister sold half interest in the ranch, in 1869 to R. Edgar Jack. Jack managed to pay off his note by 1893 and then purchase the remaining interest from Hollister’s widow.
The Jack Family operated the Cholame Rancho until the Hearst Corporation purchased it in 1965, at which time it became known as the Jack Ranch. Today the Jack Ranch consists of over 73,000 acres, with acreage in San Luis Obispo, Monterey and Kings counties.
With eleven full time employees, the ranch supports a sizable cow herd comprised of Angus cross mostly black hided, fall calving cows. The Circle C brand is number 0002, in the California Brand Book, making it the oldest registered brand in the state of California still in use today.
The Jack Ranch also farms nearly 1,500 acres of baleable forage crops and nearly four hundred acres of permanent irrigated. The ranch land is heavily populated with wild pigs. A herd of approximately 100 antelope have flourished on the ranch, since their original introduction by Fish and Game on neighboring land.