Olive Harvest Season in Sonoma County
Most people know about Sonoma County's abundant grape harvests in the fall, but here’s a lesser-known treasure: autumn also means olive harvest, often starting in November and running as late as February. Take a look at vineyards in Wine Country, and you’ll see plenty of olive trees growing alongside. That’s because the two crops thrive in the same climates, in the Mediterranean-style environment of warm, sunny days and cool, crisp nights.
So for all our luscious olive oil, we can thank our region’s verdant olive groves and skilled workers who wield long wooden sticks to shake the fruit from the trees. Many wineries, like B.R. Cohn in Kenwood and Benziger Family Winery of Glen Ellen, sell their own artisanal olive oils in “olioteca” sections of their tasting rooms, and some, like Jordan Estate of Healdsburg, herald their annual olive oil release with parties and similar fanfare as a new wine vintage.
Olive Harvest Celebration at Jordan Winery, Healdsburg (Nov. 1, 2019)
Heritage olive trees dot the landscape at this 1,200-acre property, and you can learn more about the art of harvest with this event that includes an interactive olive varietal demonstration and olive oil component tasting. Begin with a glass of Champagne and hors d'oeuvres, explore the oils, then dig into a three-course, olive-centric lunch served al fresco. Then, join an optional walking tour and olive harvest demonstration in the garden.
Here’s the mouthwatering menu from estate Executive Chef Todd Knoll:
- Citrus-Marinated Manchego with Jordan Estate Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Herbs; paired with NV Brut Jordan Cuvée by Champagne AR Lenoble
- Jordan Estate Extra Virgin Olive Oil Popped Heirloom Corn & Corn Pudding, Pickled Peach and Glazed Country Ham; paired with 2014 Jordan Chardonnay, Russian River Valley
- Hokkaido Scallop Poached in Jordan Estate Extra Virgin Olive Oil with Preserved Lemon, Picholine Olives, Toasted Almond, Heirloom Tomato Consommé and Basil Oil; paired with 2017 Jordan Chardonnay, Russian River Valley
- Knights Valley Beef Finished Over Fallen Estate Oak with Shallot Potatoes Lyonnaise; paired with 2015 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley 2005 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley, Magnum
- Terrine of Jordan Estate Olive Oil Cake and Meyer Lemon Ice Cream with Garden Strawberries; Coffee
Details: 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., 1474 Alexander Valley Road, Healdsburg. Tickets are $150; purchase here.
Community Press at The Olive Press, Sonoma (Oct. 27 & Nov. 24, 2019)
Visitors flock to The Olive Press on Hwy. 121/Arnold Drive in Sonoma, as well, to explore what is the very first olive mill in Sonoma. It debuted in in 1995, from two local olive growers who, inspired by the mills of Italy and France, brought in Pieralisi processing equipment Today, it produces house made olive oil, crushes olives for local wineries and estates, and also crushes olives from small, home growers.
On Oct. 27 & Nov. 24 this year, The Olive Press will open its facilities for the public to bring in buckets, boxes and small crates of home-grown olives to create an early harvest community olive oil. And even if you don’t have olives, but are curious about the milling process, you’re invited to join, watch, and taste award-winning olive oils and balsamic vinegars.
Fine print: there is a 300-pound maximum for Community Press, at $0.85 per pound. Walkins are welcome, and finished oil will be ready for pick up two weeks later.
Details: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., 24724 Hwy 121 (Arnold Drive), Sonoma.
You can taste oils at Olive Press year-round, as well as at these fine places:
McEvoy Ranch, Petaluma
McEvoy offers olive-themed tours, including an orchard and mill stroll, followed by oil and wine tastings. During harvest, visitors can see the milling done on a state-of-the-art Rapanelli frantoio. You’ll discover that it takes an average of 80 pounds of olives to yield one gallon of extra virgin oil and that greener fruit yields an oil that is peppery and herbaceous, while dark olives produce milder buttery oils. The crown jewel is McEvoy’s certified organic olio nuovo, or unfiltered “new oil,” crafted from premium, front-of-season fruit.
Figone's Olive Oil Co., Sonoma
The tasting room on the square in downtown Sonoma offers complimentary tasting daily, and during harvest, yolu can watch the milling process.
483 First St. West, Sonoma
Written by Sonoma Insider Carey Sweet