The People behind Sequoia

Making Sequoia sake does not start in the fermentation tanks. No, far from that, it starts north of Sacramento, in the rice fields. There are a lot of people behind the scenes helping to make Sequoia sake. Many of these people have never set foot inside the brewery, however, without their contribution, we would not be able to make our sake. We have spent years developing partnerships with these people, ingredients, and the processes that go into making Sequoia sake. Well before we brewed our first batch of sake, we needed to first think about the rice, that is where sake starts. Rice and rice cultivation are key to good sake.

This is where it starts, here at Van Dyke's farm located north of Sacramento in Pleasant Grove, California. We had the great fortune to have been introduced to one of the best organic rice farmers in California. Michael Van Dyke has been farming his whole and he comes from a rice farming family. Through his care, knowledge, and deep understanding of what Sequoia rice means to us he continues to produce, in our opinion the best rice in all of California. Organic rice farming is a challenge in the best of circumstances. We are humbled by his dedication to excellence, can not thank him enough for all he has done and continues to do.  

California rice history is not that long when you compare it to Asia's 1,000+ years of cultivation. Rice is not native to America, it came to California in 1906 and commercial cultivation started in 1912. In the last 100+ years, California has been growing rice primarily for food consumption. Sake rice and table rice cultivation, drying, and milling are very different. Mike understood this and helped us find a dryer who would also understand and help us. Mike introduced us to Ed Stills, the owner of Pleasant Grove Farms that is a third-generation family farm located north of Sacramento in Pleasant Grove, California. Sake rice drying takes longer and demands more care and attention than table rice. Ed got this right away. Thanks to Ed the next step in the process, milling became easier.

Milling rice for sake production is a two-step process with the second needing specialized milling machines. Our first milling and dehusking happen at another family-owned and run business, Far West Milling. The second step in the milling happens at Sun Valley Select milling. They too are a family-owned and run business that a very expensive and highly specialized sake milling machine.