The only way to ponder the secret of Windrose Farm is at sunset, with a glass of wine. From halfway up the dry brown hill that shadows its 71 acres, you can look down into the green valley where perfect tomatoes are born. This year, they came in well over 60 varieties.
"Bred for flavor alone," confirms Bill Spencer, who specializes in heirloom tomatoes at this farm near Paso Robles. One of the first California growers to concentrate on heirlooms and sell them directly to restaurants, he and his wife, Barbara, have been hand-delivering their crop to chefs along the coast for the past eight years.
"It's kind of a special piece of land," Bill explains. "We have a ton of topsoil for the roots to work in. And there's something about the water, because the flavor we get is absolutely unique. It's all about terroir."