Olive Oil Tasting Tours
With Sonoma olive oils increasingly in the spotlight, producers are promoting their premium goods with experiences similar to wine-tasting adventures. For a special holiday experience, check out these local tasting rooms:
The Cline family cultivates 45 estate acres of Italian and Spanish olive orchards, and also presses olives for wineries, estates such as Beltane, and home growers. In 2015, the mill cold-pressed more than 500 tons of olives, and visitors can watch the mechanical grinding stones, steel blades and centrifugal spinning chambers transform the hard green and softer blackish fruit to silky gold liquid. Year-round, taste dozens of oils at the tasting bar at Jacuzzi Family Vineyards.
Beltane Ranch, Glen Ellen
Vacation in the ranch’s 1892 bed-and-breakfast and enjoy an olive oil-accented breakfast. Once fortified, wander the estate’s Mission, Sevillano, Manzanillo, Lucca, Arbequino, Frantoio and Piqual orchards to watch the workers knock fruit off the trees.
McEvoy Ranch, Petaluma
McEvoy offers olive-themed tours, including an orchard and mill walk, followed by oil and wine tastings. During harvest, visitors can see the milling, which is done using McEvoy’s state-of-the-art Rapanelli frantoio, what Dorsey calls the “Maserati of olive oil mills.” Visitors learn that it takes an average of 80 pounds of olives to yield 1 gallon of extra virgin oil, and that greener fruit yields oil that is peppery, pungent and herbaceous in character, while dark olives produce milder, buttery characteristics. The prized product is olio nuovo, or unfiltered “new oil,” made from fruit harvested during the first few weeks of the season.
Figone’s California Olive Oil Co.. Sonoma
The orchards are in the San Joaquin Valley, but the fruit is milled, blended and bottled in Sonoma Valley. During harvest, olive-tree owners can drop off their fruit and watch the milling process at Figone. Year-round, visitors to the retail shop in downtown Sonoma can taste multiple olive and olive oil varieties.
The Olive Press & Jacuzzi Family Vineyards
24724 Arnold Drive
Sonoma, CA 95476
TripAdvisor: 4.5 stars, 330 Reviews
The Olive Press and Jacuzzi Family Vineyard are the ultimate old, Italian tasting experience. The winery is a beautiful replica of a rustic Italian stone farmhouse, inspired by the family home of Owner Fred Cline’s grandfather, Valeriano Jacuzzi, in the northern Italian Friuli region. The vineyard offers both wine and olive oil tasting rooms. Guests can taste up to five olive oils for free, ranging from mild to bold flavors.
Insider tip: The Olive Press was the first olive mill in Sonoma County and is known as the most highly awarded press in the nation.
B.R. Cohn Winery
15000 Sonoma Highway
Glen Ellen, CA
TripAdvisor: 4 stars, 108 reviews
This picturesque estate is located 10 minutes outside of Sonoma between the Mayacamas and the Sonoma Mountains. The rich soil and dry climate of the Olive Oil Hill Estate at the B.R. Cohn Winery makes for high quality extra-virgin olive oil production. B.R. Cohn prides itself on a broad range of award winning, gourmet olive oils, which range from from very mild to robust.
Insider tip: After you’re finished olive oil tasting, grab a bottle of wine and have a picnic. The estate offers a romantic patio area for guests to eat, drink, and take in the views.