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Destination America: McGinn’s Pistachio Tree Ranch

My wife and I on the weekends like to drive around and check out some of the local sights in the El Paso region and one of the places we always get drawn back to is the New Mexico city of Alamogordo located about an hour and 15 minutes north of the city.  There is plenty of things to see and do around Alamogordo since it is located in between the incredible White Sands National Monument and the beautiful Sacramento Mountains.  Something else that Alamogordo has going for it is that the Sacramento Mountains provides water that maintains a thriving farming industry around the city.  One of these farms is McGinn’s Pistachio Tree Ranch.  This ranch is just a short drive north of city along Highway 54.

McGinn’s Pistachio Tree Ranch has the unusual distinction of being home to the world’s largest pistachio:

Picture from McGinn's Pistachio Tree Ranch

Here is a short excerpt from a newspaper article about the world’s largest pistachio:

There are plenty of large, man-made oddities that people can find throughout the world.

There’s the world’s largest baked potato in Blackfoot, Idaho, the world’s biggest buffalo in Jamestown, N.D., a larger-than-life hockey stick and puck in Duncan, British Columbia, and a mammoth lobster in Shediac, New Brunswick.

Now you can add the world’s largest pistachio in Otero County to the list.

Travelers along U.S. 54 between Alamogordo and Tularosa have seen it since late last year at McGinn’s Pistachio Tree Ranch. Tim McGinn, owner of the pistachio ranch, said he wanted to honor the memory of his father, Tom McGinn, who originally founded the pistachio and grape-producing farm.

“A monument for my father was my passion since the day he passed away on Aug. 4, 2007,” McGinn said. “I wanted to erect a proper monument that would represent his enormous passion for the creation of a pistachio farm in the bare desert.”

The idea for what he calls “the world’s largest pistachio” was generated from family road trips across the United States.

“My dad liked sightseeing, but he also liked visiting roadside attractions — simply known as Americana, a unique blend of quirky and funny, but also captivating,” McGinn said. “The pieces of Americana I remember visiting were built by inspired Americans who loved what they did and wanted everyone else to know it. I think that was my dad.”

So McGinn began planning to erect a large pistachio in his father’s memory.  [Journal-Gazette]

You can read more at the link on how they built this giant nut.

Granted it is not a real pistachio, but it is still an interesting sight to check out.  If the giant pistachio wasn’t a sign that this ranch has a sense of humor than maybe this sign will convince you of that as well:

Picture from McGinn's Pistachio Tree Ranch

Anyway the real attraction are to pistachios for sale inside the store so after checking out the giant pistachio we walked over to the store:

Picture from McGinn's Pistachio Tree Ranch

On the porch in front of the store the owner’s of the ranch have themselves a pretty impressive aquarium filled with some large koi that my toddler daughter had fun looking at:

Picture from McGinn's Pistachio Tree Ranch

Next to the entrance of the store there was also a robotic mannequin that explains the history of the ranch:

Picture from McGinn's Pistachio Tree Ranch

My daughter was terrified by this mannequin so we quickly got away from him and went inside.  The inside of the store has every type of pistachio you can think of as well as various wines that they also make on the ranch:

Picture from McGinn's Pistachio Tree Ranch

My wife and I bought same various flavors of pistachios as well as a bottle wine we chose after doing a little wine tasting.  After making our purchases we then walked around the ranch to get a closer look at the trees:

Picture from McGinn's Pistachio Tree Ranch

The pistachio trees are not really that tall, especially compared to the pecan trees growing near El Paso, but these little trees are totally full of nuts:

Picture from McGinn's Pistachio Tree Ranch

Here is a closer look at some of the immature pistachios:

Picture from McGinn's Pistachio Tree Ranch

Here is a picture of some more mature pistachios:

Picture from McGinn's Pistachio Tree Ranch

It was interesting to see how these pistachios are grown.  We then walked around the back side of the ranch and took a look at the grape vines that are used to produce the ranch’s various wines:

Picture from McGinn's Pistachio Tree Ranch

All in all the visit to McGinn’s Pistachio Tree Ranch was a fun way to spend an hour checking out the ranch and trying out the various pistachios and wines for sale.  The ranch is definitely a worthy side trip while visiting one of the areas main attractions such as the White Sands National Monument, the Sacramento Mountains, or Ruidoso.  Every time I go to Alamogordo now I stop by here and by the ranch flavored pistachios.  If you visit the ranch please let me know in the comments section what your favorite pistachio is.

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