Media mogul leaves a ranching legacy
by Tracy Sellers – California Farm Bureau

Media mogul William Randolph Hearst is perhaps best known for his palatial estate, known as Hearst Castle. Once the home of the famous newspaper giant, it is now one of the world’s greatest tourist attractions. With 56 bedrooms, 61 bathrooms, 19 sitting rooms, tennis courts, pools, a movie theater and the world’s largest private zoo, the castle is almost like a small self-contained city rather than just one man’s humble abode. But it was the land just below his home that Hearst truly cherished—-a place referred to simply as “The Ranch.” For a man who lived his life in the public eye, this was his one true oasis—a place to slip into obscurity.

Today, Hearst’s cowboy dreams are being lived out by his great grandson, Steve Hearst. The now 80,000-acre Hearst Ranch is one of the largest and oldest working cattle ranches on the California coast. But when the new generation took over, the question quickly became, how can the ranch keep thriving in the modern era?

“It was my ranch manager, Cliff Garrison, who said, ’It’s too bad we can’t do anything with our beef.’ And I said, why while couldn’t we?” Steve Hearst said. “So ultimately we started pursuing our grassfed beef.”

“It’s a taste of the past,” Garrison said, “a heritage-type taste and flavor that some of us who are old enough remember.”

So from the shadow of its famous neighbor, the Hearst Ranch is stepping into the spotlight these days with its brand new grassfed beef operation. Grazing on rolling hills with picturesque views, the Hearst beef is billed as having nothing added but their history. The cattle thrive on nutrient-rich native grasses that have been there since the days of William Randolph Hearst. And the grasses are helped, not hindered, by the animals that call this place home.

The perfect balance between man and nature is exactly what Hearst intended when he began the cattle operation in 1919 and built his famous home overlooking his beloved ranch. The result of all those years of dedication to the land and animals is beef with extraordinary flavor that’s almost as memorable as the surrounding landscape.

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