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Olive a Sudden

Meet the newest addition to wine country's top offerings

Author Michael Kaplan

NORTHERN CALIFORNIA IS justifiably famous for its wines, but its temperate climate and rich soil are notable for producing another Mediterranean staple: olive oil. Like West Coast wines, these oils have unique characteristics. The best stuff tends to capture “the fresh fruit flavor of the olive,” says Paul Vossen, a UC Cooperative Extension adviser. This may stem from the fact that California producers usually make their oil with stainless steel equipment instead of wood, which is favored in Greece, Spain and Italy.

The gold standard might well be found at McEvoy Ranch in Petaluma, stocked with gnarled olive trees imported from Tuscany and planted more than 20 years ago. The ranch grows six olive varieties, then blends them to make a single oil in a process very similar to the making of cuvée wine. In fact, at least one description, from foodie website Bite of the Best, sounds an awful lot like a wine tasting blurb, positing that McEvoy’s product expresses “aromas of parsley, cut grass and fresh basil as well as flavors of artichoke.”

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