He had heard stories about the dark, fertile soil of America’s “salad bowl,” and knew he’d found the ideal spot for his family to settle when he first set eyes on the beautiful Santa Clara Valley.
Like many immigrants, Ole labored long and hard to make his dreams a reality, eventually purchasing a tract of land ideal for planting an orchard. For the next twenty years, the Christopher family continued to add to their holdings, until they became one of the largest growers of prunes in the Santa Clara Valley. Ole’s grandson, Don Christopher, grew up on that original ranch, and worked side by side with his father in the orchards, but in 1956, Don set out to create a ranch of his own.
Buying a plot of land in Gilroy – just ten miles south of where he was raised – Don and his brother, Art, decided to try their luck with a new kind of crop: Garlic. Planting French and Italian varieties, Don also found a variety of garlic that he thought was the most flavorful he had ever tasted. It had been cultivated in Italy for centuries, originating in the Piedmont area. Don planted this varietal, and it became the Ranch’s signature garlic, Monviso. Christopher Ranch has nurtured its Monviso heirloom seed line for over half a century to preserve its exceptional flavor.
Ole’s great grandson, Bill, is now at the helm of Christopher Ranch, the largest grower, packer, and shipper of California garlic for the fresh market. Overseeing 4,000 acres of row crops including garlic, bell peppers and shallots, Bill stewards with the same steadiness of purpose and dedication to quality that has been the hallmark of the family business for over 60 years.