By Raiza Giorgi
The Branquinho family has long been in the cattle business and are widely known for their involvement in the rodeo industry as Luke Branquinho is a five-time world champion steer wrestler.
The Branquinhos are expanding into a different side of the cattle business, now selling their own brand of beef called White Stone Premium Beef.
“We started kicking around the idea last year of selling beef and with the pandemic it was actually the perfect timing to do it,” Luke Branquinho said. “With most of the rodeos shut down, I had time to get the business going with a friend based in Weatherford, Texas, where all the beef is processed.”
Branquinho said that all their beef is sourced from American cattle ranchers, including from their own herd, and looks at it as a way to support other ranchers during this time.
“We were hoping to sell mostly to restaurants and such, but with all the eateries shut down we started promoting it online and it has really taken off,” Branquinho said. “I am so glad that people are enjoying it.”
Branquinho has a long history in ranching. He is a sixth-generation Californian, and his great-great-great-great-grandfather on his mother’s side was José Francisco Ortega, the first captain of El Presidio de Santa Bárbara, which was established in 1782. On his father’s side, Branquinho’s great-grandparents came to the Santa Maria Valley in the 1800s and were cattle ranchers. Up until last year the Branquinhos were based in Los Alamos, but they recently moved “into town” in Los Olivos.
“Ranching is not an easy lifestyle, and I look at it as you get out of it as much hard work as you put into it,” Branquinho said. “I get to work outside with my family and raise my kids the same way I was raised and it can’t get any better.”
Along with White Stone, the Branquinhos also have GoldStar Wagyu Cattle, which is 100 percent Japanese genetics but raised on their ranch.
Branquinho said that they are shipping their beef all around the country and he is quickly learning the beef sales game and how to get beef from his ranch in Los Olivos to the East Coast without it spoiling.
“I would say that my favorite cut is the Rib Eye, but I am really enjoying the tri-tip and the New York cuts. Just put a little Susie Q’s seasoning and slap on the grill and you’re good to go,” he laughed.
Susie Q’s is the local brand of Santa Maria Style Seasoning that pretty much everyone on the Central Coast uses for seasoning their meat and vegetables.
When he isn’t peddling beef, Branquinho is usually found working on the family ranch with his sons Cade, Jameson and Bear and practicing for the next rodeo season. His wife Lindsay works just as hard raising their three boys and running her shop Favour Boutique in Santa Ynez. She is not one to shy away from loading hay and drives the truck which pulls the steer dummy that Branquinho uses to practice steer wrestling.
“We all pitch in and get the job done,” Branquinho said. “Cade has been great willing to help with any chore and Jameson has been starting to show interest in computer work and he’s just so smart. We can all count on Bear for a laugh and his roping skills are amazing.”
They all love spending time with family and being outdoors, going for horseback rides and being in the arena practicing.
“This rodeo season will be tough with the pandemic shutting a lot of the rodeos down,” Branquinho said. “In order to qualify for the NFR (National Finals Rodeo) in December and to compete next year you have to gross a certain amount, which will be really hard with the limited opportunities.”
For more information on the beef company visit www.whitestonepremiummeats.com or visit Facebook and search GoldStar Wagyu Cattle.