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Tom Powers headshot

Tom Powers

Tom Powers operates Alhambra Valley Ranch, a 58-acre sustainable family farm in western Contra Costa County, California. The farm is located on the urban edge, between Martinez, Orinda, Pinole, and Richmond. It produces grapes for wine, olives for oil and curing, and summer vegetables, including the best-tasting Cherokee Purple heirloom tomatoes in the world. On two hillside pastures Powers raises goats, sheep, llamas, and emus. Many of the animals are retired or rescued farm animals, but the sheep and goats have become another business element of the ranch.

Alhambra Valley was once filled with orchards and wine grapes before Prohibition (1919 to 1933), with such well-known farmers as John Muir and John Swett. Powers started his farm in 1998 and since 1999 has planted hundreds of backyard vineyards in Contra Costa and surrounding counties under the name of Diablo Vineyard Planting and Management. In 2005 he revived the historic grape-growing and wine-making tradition by starting a small commercial winery on his farm. His varietal wines and blends are sold directly to friends, neighbors, stores, and restaurants.

He has also added more farm products and processing activities, including a greenhouse operation so that he can get his prize Cherokee Purple tomatoes to market in May instead of July.

These activities constitute the fourth or fifth career for this former attorney, county supervisor, realtor, and consultant. However, Powers is from a long line of farmers, including his grandfather who started one of the first farms in the Imperial Valley in 1910.

Tom Powers was awarded Contra Costa County’s Sustainable Farming Individual of the Year award in 2009. In addition to the ranch, he runs the Alhambra Valley Olive Oil Company and Alhambra Valley Wine Company and chairs the Brentwood Agricultural Land Trust Board and the Contra Costa County Agricultural Advisory Board.