By Brien O’Brien
When you think of delicious olives, places like Spain, Greece, and Italy come to mind. Rarely does Northern California come into the conversation of great olive producing regions, but maybe it should!
According to the California Olive Committee, California is responsible over 95% of the olives grown in the United States. We’re also one of the only states who commercially produce olives in mass quantity. This is because olive trees grow perfectly in the California climate due to their tolerance of both heat and salt.
Want to try NorCal olives for yourself? Here are 5 of the best Northern California olive producers you can visit and try for yourself:
This beautiful Napa Valley ranch and winery has grown olive trees since the late 1800’s. A now fully functioning restaurant and winery, this property was originally granted to Civil War Veteran E.J. Church by President Ulysses S. Grant as part of a 640 acre land patent. Here Church planted olive groves and apple orchards while operating a dairy farm on the property.
In 1989 the property was purchased by the Hall family who started restoring the then overgrown orchards. They replanted the apple orchards and added grape vines that can still be seen today.
Visit the ranch and enjoy a meal at Farmstead, the onsite restaurant, buy and taste olives at the general store, tour the garden as part of the wine tasting experience, or enjoy a “Chef’s Table” meal by the Estate Chef at the historic Logan Ives House.
738 Main Street
Saint Helena, CA 94574
The Olive Press was the first established olive mill in Sonoma county. This award wining olive producer offers tours by appointment only and has an annual “Community Press” for local olive growers. Since 2001 they have won over 500 awards for their olive products and are “dedicated to anything and everything having to do with olives and olive oil.”
Take a look at their calendar to see upcoming specialty olive events for more information or give them a call to schedule a tour.
24724 Arnold Drive
Sonoma, CA 95476
Originally created as a hamburger stand, this olive mecca has been supplying olives to Northern California for over 50 years. Pete and Ann Craig started this family operated market in 1967 and it’s now run by a total of three generations of the Craig family.
Olive Pit is a fully functioning market and cafe with olive tasting bar and specialty olives galore. Known for their olives, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar, you can also find a great variety of craft beer and local wine to please the palate.
2156 Solano Street
Corning, CA 96021
Anyone who has driven the I5 corridor in Northern California has surely seen the signs for this ever popular market. Established in 1976 this perfect stop for any road trip is surely to make any olive fan swoon. Originally opened as a market, Granzella’s has expanded and opened a gift shop and today even has a 42 room motel Granzella’s Inn located right across the street from the parking lot.
Other than their olives, they are known for having some of “Northern California’s best Italian Americano” food and was featured on the Food Network’s Triple D Nation featuring Guy Fieri.
451 6th Street
Williams, CA 95987
The property where Lodestar Farms is located started producing olives back in 1898, but wasn’t established as Lodestar Farms until 1993. Before being established the olives that came from this property were used in many award winning olive oils from 15 different olive oil companies. In 1993 owner and farmer Jamie Johansson took his olive farming experience on his own and has since been producing some of the best olive oil to come out of California.
Tours at Lodestar Farms are offered Friday’s, Saturday’s, or Sunday’s from 12 to 5 or by appointment.
3719 Foothill Blvd.
Oroville, CA 95966
Whether you like them in a cocktail, as a tapenade, or just like to put them on the tips of your fingers and pretend you’re a monster, enjoying olives can only get better by eating them locally. Try out these five locations and let us know what you think!
As the Food Editor and Co-Founder of Eating NorCal, Brien O’Brien is one of the most influential foodies in NorCal. After being named the “14th Best Home Cook in America” in 2017 by the FOX television show MasterChef with Gordon Ramsay, he moved to the Napa Valley where he spent a year and a half studying food and wine at the Culinary Institute of America. Now, he resides in the Farm to Fork Capital of America – Sacramento.