Steve Sando first thought to garden while in the grocery store. “I was a frustrated home cook,” he explains, “I would go to the store and [was] eating these awful tomatoes in August and thought, “No, I can do better than this!”’ After networking with other gardening friends in the late 1990s, Steve found Seed Savers Exchange, and the tomatoes he craved, but he also discovered what ultimately became the passion of a lifetime: heirloom beans.
“‘Rio Zape’ was the first one that totally set me afire,” recalls Steve. “Eating new crop beans was sort of a revelation: How quickly they cooked… and then just there were hints of chocolate and hints of coffee!” After a few years of selling his garden surpluses at the farmers’ market, Steve decided to go into business selling beans full time. Now 17 years later, Rancho Gordo has flourished. They expanded from a farmer’s market and online presence to a brick-and-mortar warehouse and showroom where many Napa Valley vineyard tours often stop by.