SHERMAN OAKS, Calif. – Whole Foods Market has launched its seasonal Hearst Ranch grass-fed beef program, which is the result of a partnership between Whole Foods Market Southern Pacific Region and Hearst Ranch Beef. The beef is produced by Hearst Corporation on its two Central California ranches: the 82,000 acre San Simeon Ranch, which surrounds the Hearst Castle, and the 73,000 acre Jack Ranch.

More than 600 head of Hearst Ranch grass-fed cattle are currently available, so product is limited to select Whole Foods Market locations in Southern California and will be available from June to August, or when quantities sell out.

This partnership between Stephen Hearst, William Randolph Hearst's great-grandson, and Whole Foods Market carries on the legacy of Hearst Ranch, which began in 1865, when William Randolph's father, Senator George Hearst, purchased the land that became the San Simeon Ranch.

"In 2005, Hearst Corporation, in concert with a coalition of visionary Californians, preserved the fabled San Simeon ranch as a grass-fed beef ranch in perpetuity through the historic Hearst Ranch Conservation Agreement. Grazing pasture-raised cattle offers many benefits to the Ranch,” said Steve Hearst, vice president and general manager of Hearst Corporation's Western Properties.

Born and raised at the Hearst Ranches, the cattle range freely and graze solely on the grasses that grow on the ranches, resulting in a distinctive flavor that comes from the unique combination of the grass, soil, water and climate of the region. The Central Coast terroir adds a zesty grassiness to the beef of Hearst Ranch, according to the company.

"Hearst Ranch grass-fed beef has a robust, delicious flavor," Hearst said. "For people who love a good steak, they will be able to readily savor the difference: it is the authentic flavor of the American West. I wouldn't be surprised if soon we started seeing appellations, like those for the wine country, being applied to grass-fed beef."

Whole Foods Market and Hearst Ranch Beef are starting a joint educational program on the new line. The companies will reach out about the exceptional taste, texture and health benefits of seasonal grass-fed beef through tasting events, special recipes and in-store signage.

"While it is a whole new concept to today's shopper to think about beef as a seasonal food, grass-fed cattle have been a part of the natural agricultural cycle since ancient times," said Mike Hacaga, Whole Foods Market Regional Meat Coordinator, Southern Pacific Region.

Hearst Ranch seasonal grass-fed beef will be sold at select Southern California Whole Foods Market locations in Glendale, Pasadena (Arroyo and Pasadena stores), Porter Ranch, Santa Barbara, Sherman Oaks (East and West stores), Tarzana, Thousand Oaks, Valencia and Woodland Hills.

Hearst Ranch grass-fed beef has earned a rating of four from the Global Animal Partnership Five-Step Animal Welfare Rating program – which means the cattle have been raised on a pasture with no antibiotics, added growth hormones or animal by-products.