It’s olive season in Wine Country, and now through the new year you can play the role of farmer and shake down the tasty fruit straight from the trees or wait until they get made into artisanal oil and briny table snacks. Either way, yum!
McEvoy Ranch (Petaluma)
Home to 80-acres of premium olive trees, this is one of the nation’s largest producers of certified-organic, estate-grown olive oil, and it harvests, mills, blends, and packages every bottle entirely on-site. You can visit by-appointment to watch the pressing, and even bring your own home-grown olives for community milling days. If you can't make it this winter, orchard and mill walks complemented by olive oil and wine tastings are offered year-round. // 5935 Red Hill Road, Petaluma, mcevoyranch.com
Benziger Family Winery (Glen Ellen)
Benziger's 1,000-tree olive orchard is nestled right up against their wine vines, and if you book the Biodynamic Vineyard Tram Tour during olive harvest you can witness the picking up-close. The winery also sells its own artisanal olive oils in the olioteca section of its tasting room, so you can take some home with you as well. // 1883 London Ranch Road, Glen Ellen, benziger.com
Pasolivo (Paso Robles)
With 45 acres on California's prime central coast, harvest time is busy at this boutique salon. Olives are hand picked, lugged in bins, and immediately pressed fresh. Visitors who time it right (call ahead for harvest information) can peek at the bustling wash pad and into the pressroom, otherwise, tours are available year-round followed by tastings in the recently-expanded upscale retail center. The selection includes more than 11 olive varieties grown on-site, and infused with such ingredients as basil, tangerine, rosemary, lemon and lime. // 8530 Vineyard Drive, Paso Robles, pasolivo.com
The Olive Press (Sonoma)
Home to the very first olive mill in Sonoma, The Olive Press debuted their machine in 1995 inspired by the mills of Italy and France. Today the mill produces house made olive oil, crushes olives for local wineries and estates, and also presses olives for small, home growers. It’s a busy place, but a great first dip into the aura of olives. // 24724 Arnold Drive, Sonoma, theolivepress.com
Figone's California Olive Oil Co. (Sonoma)
Figone's orchards are in San Joaquin Valley, but the fruit is milled, blended, and bottled on-site at a Sonoma Valley industrial mill. During harvest (October through December), you can make an appointment to drop off your own fruit and watch the entire milling process. Year-round, you can taste multiple olive and olive oil varieties at the retail shop and snacking bar in downtown Sonoma. // 483 1st Street West, Sonoma, figoneoliveoil.com
Annual Olive Festival (Sonoma)
The celebration runs through January and February across Sonoma Valley, with highlights including the annual Feast of the Olive Dinner (Jan. 30, 2016) at Sonoma’s Ramekins Culinary School, the new-last-year Olive Bash (Jan. 15, 2016) at Sonoma Valley Inn, and a Blessing of the Olives ceremony (Jan. 2, 2016) at the historic San Francisco Solano de Sonoma Mission, where the mission’s Rev. Michael Kelly sprinkles holy water over branches, olives, and the hundreds of fellow-attendees who pack the church grounds.