December 18, 2017 by Ramona d'Viola

The Meat of the Matter

A Tempranillo and a Tri-Trip from the same Terroir
Pasture-raised Meats from Six Sigma Ranch & Winery

“Do you guys sell meat?”

Six Sigma Tri Tip pairs perfectly with a robust tempranillo

Six Sigma Tri Tip pairs perfectly with a robust tempranillo

When Kaj and Else Ahlmann purchased their 4,300-acre property in Lower Lake, they were looking for a vineyard, not a cattle ranch. However, the seller, an officer at a local Cattleman’s Association, could not remain in his esteemed position unless he had cows, so, a deal was struck.

“He sold off all but two cows. We kept them on – grazing the pastures and ‘greeting’ visitors, while my parents went about creating the vineyards,” says Christian Ahlmann, Six Sigma Ranch & Winery’s second generation of stewards – and resident meat man. “When people came into the tasting room, they would ask ‘Do you guys sell meat?’ – and the proverbial light bulb went off.

“We started with the Black Angus, before expanding into sheep and pigs,” says Ahlmann. “But our accountant couldn’t figure out how we went from four cows to eight cows without purchasing any more cows. So, I had to explain how a bull and a cow fall in love…”

City folk.

Christian and Rachel Ahlmann of Six Sigma Ranch & Winery

Christian and Rachel Ahlmann of Six Sigma Ranch & Winery

Along with his wife Rachel (and three tiny Ahlmanns, who all live in a vintage airstream on the property), the couple manages the herds – and the business of selling the meat.

“Just like our wine grape growing operation, we utilize sustainable practices in raising our livestock,” says Ahlmann. “It’s an almost ‘hands off’ approach. We choose the best breeding stock for a variety of characteristics and let them be – like a herd of wild bison.

“But, the secret to our flavorful meats is in the timing,” says Ahlmann. “We let the cows graze on the grass until it’s just about to turn brown, and just before it sets a hard seed. This last of the green grass ‘finish’ produces a beautiful marble in the meat.

“We started in 2010 – now we have waiting lists – and limits on how much one customer can buy,” says Ahlmman. “We had people gaming the system!”

If you’ve tasted a Six Sigma Tri-tip, or their acorn-finished, thick-cut bacon (sells out almost as soon as they have it in stock), or a savory, perfectly seared lamb chop, you’ll understand why people have the tendency to hoard.

“We adhere to the highest USDA standards, and process our meats with the well-respected Belcampo Meat Company,” says Ahlmann. “Our pasture-raised herds produce meats of the highest quality – perfect for a special occasion when paired with a Six Sigma wine, of course.”

Gourmands and gourmets, and those who just know what they like, find out why Six Sigma Ranch is gaining recognition for their wines and meats, by those in the know.

“We take a ‘Disney’ approach to sharing our bounty – we want everyone who visits to leave delighted,” says Ahlmann. “And keep coming back again and again, and bringing their friends.”

Get your order in soon! Find out more about Six Sigma’s Pasture-raised meats.

Braised Beef Burgundy
An Ahlmann Family Recipe
Serves 4 – 6

Preheat the oven to 275°F.
2 lbs beef, cut into 2-inch cubes
2 tbsp. olive oil
12 shallots, sliced
¼ lb bacon, cut into strips
1½ cup red wine
½ cup beef broth
12 oz Polish Sausage, sliced
½ lb carrots, peeled and sliced
1 thyme sprig
1 bay leaf
2 garlic cloves, crushed or cut into thin slices
Salt and fresh ground pepper
2-4 tbsp. cornstarch dissolved in ½ cup water (optional)
Oven safe pot

Heat olive oil in a large pot, add beef and stir until brown. Remove beef from the pot and set aside. Cook shallots and bacon in the remaining olive oil and drippings over medium heat until bacon is crisp and shallots lightly browned. Add wine and broth and bring to a boil. Return beef to mixture and add sausage, carrots, thyme, bay leaf, garlic, and salt and pepper to taste.

If pot is not oven-safe, transfer the mixture to an oven-safe dish. Cover and braise in the oven about 3 hours or until beef is tender. Remove lid and braise for another 15 minutes. Remove bay leaf and thyme. If preferred, thicken with cornstarch. Serve over rice, and pair with a delicious Six Sigma Pinot Noir (if you have one, currently sold out until fall 2018), or a “bolder” alternative, Six Sigma’s deliciously robust Tempranillo.

Bon Appetit!