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Olive Oil Tasting in Napa - What Not to Miss?

How do a couple of Chowhounds who don't drink wine spend a weekend in wine country? Olive Oil tasting, naturally. So, I've been drooling over my options oliveoilsource.com but I was looking to get some advice on a few places that are not to be missed. We hope to hit 10-15 places in two days (is that realistic?) so multiple recs are welcome.

Specifically, I'm looking for places that grow, press and bottle in the Napa area. I'm happy to go to Napa, Yountville, St Helena and Calistoga but I'm not willing to drive to Sonoma County or Santa Rosa County. I'm mostly interested in small farms making high-end products with limited distribution. I'm not interested in flavored oils, unless they are exceptional. I want to be able to taste before I buy, though I'm happy to call ahead if a place doesn't have an official tasting room. Although I understand that it's difficult to find places that are Certified Organic, it would be nice if they maintain organic principles whenever possible (am I asking too much with that last request?)

Thanks for your guidance. Of course, I will report back.

-Morton

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  1. We don't drink wine either. I did a little sleuthing and found a place. We haven't been there yet, but in February we're planning to go to Round Pond. They do tours and tasting.

    www.roundpond.com

    There's also a lady who will take you around to various places that aren't open to the public. I tried to book with her, but unfortunately her husband's birthday is on the only day we'll be available.

    www.greatolivetours.com

    If you do either of these before February (or any others) I would love to hear your feedback!

    3 Replies
    1. re: Cindy

      That tour sounds like a blast but if I had $700 to drop on it I'd be dining at French Laundry instead of Ad Hoc (g). Good thing to keep in mind, though, maybe after I get my MBA... I'll definitely check out Round Pond

      1. re: Morton the Mousse

        Morton, please report back on Ad Hoc if you decide to try it. I'm rather appalled at the ideal of $45.pp for pot roast, fried chicken, etc and I haven't had a cocktail, wine, tax or tip. Seems a tad out of line...

        1. re: Gail

          I understand what you're saying but its not like he's buying the ingredients on sale at Safeway and while its comfort food its not "ordinary" and the staff are really well-trained and properly compensated.

          First meal post -- http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

          Yes, $9 for a tomato salad could be considered pricy, but $9 for a salad, plus an education on how incredible a crouton can be?....priceless...'cause now I can make them at home.

    2. Dutch Henry Winery grows, presses and bottles their own olive oil. Its quite good.

      1. here's some links I found doing a search:
        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

        from JillyD in the link above:
        "Ok as much as I want to keep this place a secret depending on how far you want to travel, the Napa Valley Olive Oil Manufacturing Co. in St. Helena is a great place. It is by far the best olive oil I have found in the area, and you can get any size from bottles to jugs. Also the little shop has a variety of cheeses, pastas and other Italian imports."

        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

        1. Many Napa wineries sell their own olive oil in their tasting room. It's usually from their own olives that they truck over to the co-op in Glen Ellen and have custom pressed. But they may not publicize their olive oil much. Sometimes the oils may make it to the shelves of local markets. So, it's a good idea to pop into Oakville Grocery, Dean & DeLuca & Sunshine Market to look for hidden treasures and then try to track down the winery that produces the oil.

          This listing of Napa olive oil producers may also be helpful:

          http://www.oliveoilsource.com/scripts...

          And while it's not exactly what you describe, the St. Helena Olive Oil Company (located in Rutherford at Hwy. 29 & Rutherford Crossroad) is worth a stop. They have a dozen local and imported oils to taste.

          Long Meadow Ranch produces olive oil, in addition to beef, wine & produce. They offer various tour & tasting options.

          6 Replies
          1. re: Ruby Louise

            I rec'd a press release from Long Meadow Ranch this week, here's the link to it on the website -
            http://www.longmeadowranch.com/news/p...
            It's about the grassfed beef and not olive oil, but reading about some of the visitor options might sway Morton's decision.

            1. re: Melanie Wong

              Sadly, they're booked with private events the weekend I'm visiting Napa. The ranch looks incredible and the tours sound like a lot of fun so I may make the drive out to Calistoga specifically to visit them.

              1. re: Morton the Mousse

                Wherever you decide to visit, I'll encourage you in the same way I would folks who are wine touring. That is, if you can spare the time, take every opportunity you have to kick some dirt and see where the product is grown and produced. You'll have a deeper appreciation of the work and conditions that go into making unique agricultural products. With tasting alone, you might as well be in Manhattan.

                1. re: Melanie Wong

                  I'll keep that in mind. Unfortunately, the vast majority of olive oil producers in Napa do not have the facilities for either tastings or tours (I spent about two hours on the phone calling every place that has a listed number). I've dug up a couple of cool spots to check out, Round Pond being the most promising, but there is simply not the myraid of options that you have with wine tasting.

                  1. re: Morton the Mousse

                    That's too bad. You're on the wrong side of the hill for me to help with referrals to olive groves.

                    P.S. Depending on where you're staying in Napa Valley, parts of the Sonoma Valley are actually closer than Calistoga is. If you're in downtown Napa, Glen Ellen in the Valley of the Moon (Sonoma Valley) is 23 miles, whereas Calistoga is 27 miles. In Glen Ellen you can visit B R Cohn and The Olive Press.

                2. re: Morton the Mousse

                  Hey, Morton, I'd love a detailed report when you do your Napa Valley weekend, especially restaurants and what you think of Round Pond. We'll be following your footsteps in February.

            2. Here's info from the LA Times article:

              The McEvoy Ranch, 5935 Red Hill Road, Petaluma; (866) 617-6779, http://www.mcevoyranch.com . Two two-hour tasting tours begin again in spring 2006. $20 per person, maximum of eight per tour. Tours sell out weeks in advance. Reservations also by e-mail at toursmcevoyranch.com.

              The Olive Press, 14301 Arnold Drive, Glen Ellen; (800) 965-4839, http://www.theolivepress.com . Open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily. Visitors can see the press, a video and try the complementary tasting bar. Groups of 10 or more can book private tours for $5 a person.

              Round Pond, 886 Rutherford Road (California 128), Rutherford; (877) 963-9364, http://www.roundpond.com . Tours and tastings by appointment only, limit of 12 per group. $20 per person.

              Great Olive Tours handles visits to Poplar Hill in St. Helena, Villa Mille Rose in Oakville and others. Tours can be arranged by calling (707) 968-9978 or greatolivetours.com.

              TO LEARN MORE:

              The California Olive Oil Council, P.O. Box 7520, Berkeley, CA 94707; (888) 718-9830, http://www.cooc.com , keeps information on olives, olive oil and tours (under "Resources").

              The Olive Oil Source, 390 Vista Grande, Greenbrae, CA 94904; (415) 461-6267, http://www.oliveoilsource.com , is an information and supply clearinghouse for oil producers, consumers and hobbyists. Look under "Map and Tours" for orchards that offer tours.

              4 Replies
              1. re: larochelle

                Note that McEvoy Ranch and The Olive Press are both in Sonoma County and out of range for the OP. But well worth noting for other visits.

                1. re: Melanie Wong

                  Note also, because I'm a bit anal retentive this way, that the OP said he was not willing to go to "Santa Rosa County" which is good, 'cause there isn't one (at least, not in Northern California). The city of Santa Rosa is in Sonoma County. In fact, it -- not the city of Sonoma -- is the county seat.

                  I think the tip about going to wineries that also make their own olive oil is a good one -- the olive-oil-only places seem kind of expensive.

                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                    Some of the winery produced olive oils cost more than the wines! (g)

                    1. re: Melanie Wong

                      True! As I've said before, I bought a lovely olive oil from Wente, but it was $20/375 ml. On the other hand, a bottle of olive oil goes a lot farther.

                      I was talking about the tour/tasting when I said it might be cheaper.

              2. I had a lunch meeting in downtown Napa today and on the walk from my car to the restaurant noticed a sidewalk sign for Stella Cadente's olive oil bar on First Street in the wine shop.

                More on Stella Cadente -
                http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

                1. I just came back from Napa Valley and Round Pond was the highlight of my trip. The tour was very informative and they grow, press and bottle on site. But particularly, the tasting was fantastic. It was a great spread of organic tomatoes, mozz cheese, salad, bread and tasting the oils and vinagerettes was really fantastic. I would highly recommend. Round Pond is a bit pricey but you definitely get what you pay for. The tour guide was really personable as well. Not sure when you plan on going, but I think they begin harvesting the olives in November/December timeframe. Also, my boyfriend and I were the only ones on the tour so it was especially romantic and intimate.

                  Also, a suggestion - even though you're not into wine tastings, Frog's Leap is right next door to Round Pond. They offer a great wine tasting which is free and they're all organic and geopowered. They have a great organic garden which you're allowed to pick off of. Reservations required.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: soviamoon

                    I was at Round Pond last weekend as well. Wasn't it great? What day and time did you go? We may have just missed each other.

                    1. re: Morton the Mousse

                      We actually went on October 5th. I can't stop raving about how great the tasting was. Saw your later post about your trip and thought the description was great - especially of the sugar cube tasting.