small affordable olive oil producers
In France, one could go to the producer's market or to a small oil shop in the countryside and taste/buy amazing olive oils for only $20-$25/L. In Spain it's even cheaper.
Even a fancy shop like Olivier & Co sells a liter new harvest for only 30€, which it sells in the US for $60. I've searched online and it seems good quality is $60/L min.
I'm sure there are lots of small producers here in California, anyone know a good source for oils directly from the producer for cheaper than the fancy shops in the big cities?
I'm currently paying $10 / L for excellent imported olive oil. Few of the local oils I've tried at any price are that good. $60 seems insane.
At La Ciccia they're having their own oil custom-made, available by the bottle while supplies last. I forget the price but it seemed reasonable. Still has that new-oil sting.
Some places sell good oil in bulk at lower prices, e.g. the Pasta Shop and Rainbow Grocery.
Went to Amphora today in search of pumpkin seed oil which they had (delicious). I had never been and was pretty impressed with what they're offering. About 20-25 olive oils in bulk from many different varietals with helpful descriptions and you can taste any of them for free. The tasting really helped me to id what I enjoy most. I found one with banana/strawberry overtones for ice cream. In addition to the plain OO there are unusual flavored oils such as mushroom/sage, tunisian chile pepper, harissa, etc. And lots of flavored balsamics, too. You can purchase the oil in quantities ranging from 100ml to 1L. They have a house blend for $13/L for cooking.
The Olive Press (at the Jacuzzi Winery south of Sonoma) has many different types of olive oil that you can taste in the shop. If you bring your own container, you can buy the one you like best in "bulk". I can't remember their prices, but they seemed reasonable to me the last time I was there.
The problem is that you're equating cost with quality. Sure, there are some small producer olive oils that are very expensive, but that doesn't mean they're good (or, rather, that you'll like them -- if I could afford McEvoy I still wouldn't buy it, because I don't like it!).
The best thing to do is go out and taste a wide range and find something you think is good, regardless of the price.