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.
Long Meadow Ranch integrates olive oil tastings into the other aspects of its business. Example: Eat a meal at the Farmstead restaurant and your server will top certain dishes with the estate’s milled oil. Afterward, partake in a complimentary tasting in the shop next door. (Or skip the meal and just go for the $5 tasting.)
For a more extensive experience, make an appointment to visit the ranch, up in the Mayacamas mountains, which includes wine and a round or two of olive oil. Olives from a grove first planted in the late 1800s are processed in an Italian granite mill just a two-minute tractor ride from the trees, making the oil here about as fresh as you can find anywhere.
Shop tasting, $5, 11:00 am to 6:00 pm daily. Ranch experience, $75, by appointment only. 738 Main St., St. Helena, CA 94574; www.longmeadowranch.com