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Jun 10, 2010 10:41 AM

California Olive Report

I recently bought Members Mark California olive oil from Sams Club and
wanted to share my experience. Up until now I’ve only used Italian olive oil
as I thought this was supposed to be the best but this certainly compares in
flavor AND I love that it’s grown and bottled in the good old U.S. of A. It
comes in 1 liter bottles which is perfect for family use.

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  1. Wish Costco would carry a California-produced olive oil. Just picked up a nice bottle of Tuscan EVOO at Costco last week, so I'm not hurting too much.

    12 Replies
    1. re: bizzwriter

      Costco does carry a California olive oil; its a new product at the Morena location. Two-pack is reasonably priced. I like the Tuscan better but the CA is perfect for everyday use.

        1. re: bizzwriter

          They have it in Carlsbad Costco, too. The brand name is Corto, and I bought the two-pack but am kind of disappointed with the taste. It's a lot of olive oil to have to go through before I can return to my favorite Italian one!

          1. re: carli

            If you're really unhappy with it, Costco is very good about returns. I'm curious - what about the taste don't you like? Too grassy/mild/strong/etc??

            1. re: leanneabe

              Well, I'm glad you asked what it was about the Corto CA olive oil taste I didn't like because I'm not sure I could've pinpointed it without doing a taste test, which came at the perfect time - Fri night with glass of wine and delicious bread in hand!

              I compared it to the other 2 olive oils I have on hand, all extra virgin olive oils. The 3 were - 1) the Costco Corto olive oil from CA, 2) a very special small bottle from a small olive oil producer in Tuscany that a friend brought back last fall from a trip, which she claimed was "the best" and 3) a tiny sample bottle of a brand called Star, which I received in my goodie bag after recently running the San Diego rock & roll marathon (an odd giveaway but I was happy to have it).! The label states that it's made in Italy, Spain, Greece and Tunisia. My thought was, really? A combo of olive oil from each country? Well, alrighty then.

              Here are my impressions -

              1) It is noticeably darker, almost greenish instead of yellow, and a bit thicker. It is grassy-tasting and herbacious with strangely no pepper-y taste at all.
              2) It is lighter in color and definitely pepper-y with almost a sharp bite to it, and nicely herbacious as well. More interesting and somehow, more delicious.
              3) Similar to #2, but with slightly less pepper. Was lighter yellow than both of others and thinner. Not as pungent or full-bodied tasting as the others.

              So, all in all, I would say I liked #2 best overall but most importantly, I now realize that what the Corto CA olive oil from Costco is missing is the sharper, pepper-y flavor. It's mild, grassy and herbacious so if those flavors are your priority in an olive oil, you'll probably like it.

              Hope this helps!

              1. re: carli

                For me it is always important when buying olive oil that it is written one the bottle that it is "first cold pressed". If it is not noted on the bottle than it is highly likely that it is often pressed at higher temperature which will reduce the quality of the oil (but increase the yield) or even worse that chemicals are used to extract the oil (mainly hexane, this chemical is regulated in labs in the EU due to its potential carcinogenic properties). Unfortunately olive oil bottled outside of the EU can have this statement without any controls.

                1. re: carli

                  There was an interesting piece in the New Yorker last year about olive oil, and it turns out that at one point some years ago the majority of the extra virgin sold throughout the world from any consolidator was either plain phony, oil made from the lowest-quality rancid "lampone" olives (used for oil lamps) or else doctored nut oils. Even if a company president has honest scruples, there are many ways a "pure" product can be altered by all the middle steps involved in picking, pressing and packing. At one point, the Guardia di Finanza intercepted a whole tanker of Greek hazelnut oil hiding out in the Adriatic that was on the way to Italy for a IOC makeover.

                  Something to keep in mind with domestic oil labeling is that unlike in Europe, IOC Extra Virgin standards are not required for the product to contain those words on the label- the only requirement is that the oil is in fact made of olives.

                  Extra virgin oil appearance can vary from dark, hazy green to clear bright yellow- so try not to let appearance sway you too much. The problem is that it's not usually possible to taste before buying at the supermarket or Costco, but bright fruity and peppery flavor components really need to be present or else you may be dipping your foccacia into an impostor. Also, the quality of oils packed on any particular label can change from month to month. Find some recent reviews, get a fresh bottle and fork over the bucks for the good stuff. In my opinion, the best ones come from Spain and Greece.

                  Anybody tried anything good lately?


                  1. re: SaltyRaisins

                    Unfortunately, even in Europe, there are plenty of issues with authenticity and labeling and there's no end in sight.

                    Closer to home, here's a recent article about the new standards coming in October:

                    And here's an interesting link I read some time ago, for the sake of discussion:

                    1. re: SaltyRaisins

                      Not necessarily new to me, but I really love Unio olive oil from Spain.

                        1. re: SaltyRaisins

                          You know I haven't really looked for it around town, I always just order it from La Tienda and get it within 3 or 4 days. Since it's Spanish and a fairly well known brand there, try calling Pata Negra in PB to see if they've got it.

                          Pata Negra
                          1657 Garnet Ave, San Diego, CA 92109

                      1. re: SaltyRaisins

                        See the link below. Apparently, as California produces more olive oil, the Feds want to adopt scientifically verifiable standards for nomenclature such as "virgin" or "extra virgin,"


          2. Fresh & Easy carries a house label CA olive oil. The F&E Greek olive oil is excellent and a good value to boot. Based on that information, I will be trying the CA soon.

            1. What's the price for 1L of Members Mark olive oil? I've been wanting to buy some California OO but typically have seen prices of $15-25 for a half liter or less. Too expensive when you can get decent italian stuff for $5/L.

              1 Reply
              1. re: steveprez

                A super fruity, slightly peppery, most delicious olive oil I've had in a long time:

                Stonehouse Extra Virgin

                This is a California olive oil that is produce in small quantities. I don't know where it's sold in SD. I got it as a gift from my sister, and she bought it on a wine tasting trip.

                The good news is they ship!

                Also, I don't really trust F&E. I just have the feeling there is going to be a big expose about how none of their organic stuff is really organic...or something. They're okay for packaged, processed foods, but not for real food nor real ingredients, IMO.