I´m the marketing person for Continente Ranch, which is a wonderful place to be associated with. Their specialty store is a premier shopping resource for a variety of quality products including fresh nuts and products harvested from California orchards. A walnut processing plant is on the property.
Continente’s specialty onsite store offers a variety of nuts, dried fruits, candy, (including sugar free), and trail mix. We sell candy in classic flavors and a variety of premium chocolates. We also offer walnuts in a wide variety of styles including whole in shell, halves, pieces, and other sizes — and in any size ranging from small snack-size packages to immense 50-pound sacks.
We offer our products in a variety of assortments as colorful gift trays and boxes. We also do custom private labeling for our items using logos of any company placing an order. A company can order small bags to be used as gifts or make large orders of products for their own retail purposes.
We have a robust online ordering website. Customers can make their order online and have it waiting for them when they come by. They can also have it packaged and shipped to them, using our packaging and shipping services.
The onsite store is managed by a faithful person named Maria Cabada who has been on the job for more than three decades. Maria is glad to greet customers when they walk through the door and after a few visits the customers are glad to see Maria, as well. She works diligently to help people find what they are really are looking for. She not only remembers the names of her regular customers, but she keeps a mental log of what they have ordered and the products they prefer. Because of our quality and service, we’ve attracted a number of loyal customers.
There is a seasonal element to the industry and sales are high during the holidays. However sales are becoming increasingly robust throughout the year. A number of aficionados wait patiently for the beginning of each nut harvest, which varies according to weather conditions but typically occurs in the middle of October. Some begin calling us early in October to find out if harvesting has begun so they can be on hand to get absolutely fresh nuts as soon as they become available. The harvest lasts a couple of months during which people can maintain their flow of fresh-off-the-tree products. Each fall, people come to us on annual visits from around the Bay Area to load up with products.
Walnuts generally taste fine to me, but I don’t doubt that a refined palate can detect a unique quality in a perfectly fresh walnut, but the fact is tests have shown that, if stored properly, walnuts can be kept for months. If you put them in a freezer you can extend the shelf life to as long as a year, and can double that if you vacuum-seal them in FoodSaver bags.
Even though Continente Ranch has been in the middle of Oakley for eight decades, it continues to have a “hidden secret” quality. Many residents are unaware that there is a large ranch, sprawling walnut factory, and specialty store right in their midst. First time visitors are often amazed at the size of the operation.
Three Continente brothers — Giovanni, Gesuere, and Andrea — moved into the Oakley area in the 1900s, setting up home on the same property Continente Ranch occupies today. Their involvement with food production, however, was a legacy stretching back to their roots in Monte Di Procida, a province of Naples, Italy. They were attracted to the area because the climate and soil were similar to that in their Italian home.
Andrea was the key member of the family behind Continente Ranch’s subsequent history. His grandson John and other family members continue to manage the family operations that markets wine grapes in their local vineyard.
I’ve been involved as the marketing person for Continente Ranch for more than a decade. I work closely with Joan Soto. Joan is a humble person who prefers that people regard her as an employee but she is, in fact, a grandchild of Andrea who founded the ranch. Joan and the rest of the team have created a great environment, welcoming to customers and employees, as well. They make me feel part of the family. Everyone works diligently, but they are happily doing things they like. They are open to suggestions for improvement; they make it a pleasure for me to be on site.
Grandpa Andrea would be proud of the way his offspring continue to make such a thriving success of the dream that he and his brothers came up with so long ago in their Italian homeland.