Not every winery that produces olive oil sells it or offers tastings, but if you know where to go, options abound. You’ll learn a lot about olive oil in the process— why tastes are served in darkened cups, how cold pressing works and what harvest date you should look for on your next bottle. California’s olive oil scene first bloomed in the early 1990s, when Lila Jaeger founded the state’s Olive Oil Council. We’re in what they call a Mediterranean climate, after all, and several of Napa’s most famous producers have roots that date back much further that the council’s founding.
In 2005, the year they became eligible for Social Security, Bonnie Storm and Nena Talcott launched Grove 45, an olive oil production company based on trees Storm had imported from Italy in 1994. Since then, Grove 45’s reputation has taken off; the production house has won awards both for its oil and bottle design. Today, the company distributes as far away as New York.An appointment includes a tour of the property by Storm and local food prepared by Talcott. Over lunch, which prominently features Grove 45’s signature deep-green, peppery oil, Talcott and Storm share the story of the food, the oil, and the charming ranch. Bonus: Depart with a pewter-stamped aluminum bottle of Grove 45 EVOO.