Spotlight on a Native-Owned Business: Séka Hills Olive Mill and Tasting Room
Jim Etters is the General Manager of Séka Hills Olive Mill and Tasting Room — Specialty Foods from the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation, located in Brooks, California. Séka Hills produces a number of products utilizing crops grown on the tribe’s over 22,000 acres of diversified farmland, offering olive oil, wine, vinegar, hummus, pickled asparagus, and more. Launched in 2011, Séka Hills now boasts a custom-built mill, tasting rooms, a satellite tasting room, and distribution to more than 1,000 restaurants and other locations. While COVID-19 closed the tasting rooms temporarily, Séka Hills has recently been able to welcome customers while adhering to strict CDC guidelines.
We hope you enjoy learning about Séka Hills!
1. Tell us a little about yourself and your business.
My name is Jim Etters, I am the general manager of Séka Hills.
We–the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation– are a forward-looking, independent, self-governed nation that supports our people and community by strengthening our culture, stewarding our land and creating positive economic impacts and security for our future generations.
As the historical inhabitants of California’s Capay Valley, our homeland is at the heart of our culture and heritage.
2. How did the company originate?
As the success of the Yocha Dehe’s gaming and hospitality enterprises brought economic self-reliance, the tribal leaders sought economic diversification, creating a farm and ranch program. Now totaling over 22,000 acres, Yocha Dehe has one of the most diversified farming operations in Yolo County. The Séka Hills line of specialty foods comes from the bounty of these lands.
3. Tell us about Seka Hills.
The Séka Hills brand was launched in 2011, but this was years in the making! The first olive orchard was planted in 2008. Much of the tribe’s purchased lands were already in production with crops such as almonds, walnuts, and wheat. There were these 82-acres ideally suited to olives. The first harvest was in 2011 and the mill custom-built in 2012, followed by the onsite tasting room in 2014 and the satellite tasting room in 2017. The extra virgin olive oils are widely distributed in over 1,000 locations and restaurants. Other products are available in the tasting rooms and online. The mill also offers custom crush services.
Séka Hills estate wines, certified extra virgin olive oils, honey, and agricultural products reflect the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation’s deep ancestral connection with the fertile land of the Capay Valley. Séka Hills is focused on producing only the finest-quality products that thrive in the unique Capay Valley environment.
4. How has the pandemic affected your business and operations?
As an essential service, the mill stayed open, bottling and shipping to distributors and online customers. The tasting rooms closed at the beginning then soon offered parking lot pick up. Office and sales staff mostly work remotely. The tasting rooms have reopened and are following strict COVID health and safety protocols, as are the onsite workers in other departments.
5. Are you planning to expand your business?
We are expanding distribution and developing new products with ingredients sourced from Yocha Dehe lands. You can visit our website at www.sekahills.com to stay up to date on Séka Hills as we continue to expand and offer more products.