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.Many wineries sell their own artisanal olive oils in “olioteca” sections of their tasting rooms.
Visitors flock to The Olive Press 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.
In late fall, the Olive Press opens 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.
Sip and savor the spectacular views from the terrace at Trattore Farms Winery and Tasting Room. In addition to estate Rhone-style wines, they offer two olive oil tasting flights with either straight or flavored olive oils.
Trattore designed a custom system that incorporated a traditional granite stone mill and a state-of-the-art hammer mill – for the time honored tradition of stone milling and the modern conveniences of automated technology. By combining two pressing techniques into one mill, they select which mill to use based on olive varietal, ripeness, and desired oil style.
McEvoy Ranch, Petaluma
McEvoy Ranch 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 Figone's Olive Oil Company tasting room on the square in downtown Sonoma offers complimentary tasting daily, and during harvest, you can watch the milling process.
Their elegant bottles, olive wood products, and bath and body products named “Three Sisters Grove” after their three daughters, make the perfect gift or memento from your visit to Sonoma Valley.
Jordan Vineyard & Winery often heralds their annual olive oil release with parties and similar fanfare as a new wine vintage.
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.
Written by Sonoma Insider Carey Sweet.