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 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.
Each November, the Olive Press opens its facilities for the public to bring in buckets, boxes and small crates of homegrown olives to create an early harvest community olive oil. You’re invited to join the harvest, watch the milling process, and taste award-winning olive oils and balsamic vinegars. See their website for dates and times.
Savor a spectacular view of the Dry Creek Valley from the terrace at Trattore Farms Winery and Tasting Room, where in addition to estate Rhone-style wines, they offer more than a dozen estate-made olive oils.
To make its olive oils, Trattore has combined two pressing techniques — a traditional granite stone mill and a state-of-the-art, automated hammer mill — choosing between the two based on olive varietal, ripeness, and desired oil style.
Consider booking a tasting flight with oils that are either straight (The Purist) or flavored (The Adventurer), plus estate-made vinegars. For an even more educational experience, head out on the Get Your Boots Dirty Tour, which will take you through Trattore's vineyards, orchards, and mill center, ending with a tasting of wines and olive oils. Reservations for flights and tours are required.
McEvoy Ranch, Petaluma
In addition to 45-minute olive oil tastings on the graceful patio, McEvoy Ranch offers olive-themed Walkabout Tours that include an orchard and mill stroll, followed by oil and wine tastings.
During harvest, tour guests 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; greener fruit yields an oil that is peppery and herbaceous, while dark olives produce milder buttery oils. McEvoy’s crown jewel is its certified-organic olio nuovo, or unfiltered “new oil,” crafted from premium, front-of-season fruit.
Reservations are required for tastings and tours.
Figone's Olive Oil Co., Sonoma
The Figone's Olive Oil Company tasting room on the square in downtown Sonoma offers complimentary tasting daily, but if you'd like to get in and out within a certain time frame, you can book a 30- to 60-minute Large Group Tasting for $10 per guest. If you're there during the olive harvest, you can watch the milling process.
Figone's elegant bottles, olive-wood products, and bath and body products (the latter 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 its 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.