Abundant Olive Season in full swing
Yield could be double last year's
SONOMA VALLEY OLIVE PRODUCERS were thankful for the plentiful crop at last Saturday’s Blessing of the Olives, where the Rev. Mike Kelly presided.
Valley olive producers came out for the annual Blessing of the Olives at the Mission San Francisco Solano last Saturday, and they had a lot to be thankful for. This year’s olive crop is shaping up to be one of the best in recent memory
“This year we had so many we couldn’t pick them all,” said Bruce Cohn, proprietor of B.R. Cohn Winery and B.R. Cohn Olive Oil Company. “The weather was just right, especially during bloom.”
Cohn usually only processes 6 to 7 tons of olive oil, but estimated he had 18 tons total when he harvested the fruit in late November. “I wish I could have used them all,” he said. “Everyone had so many olives this year, no one wanted to buy any.”
At the Olive Press, situated inside Jacuzzi Winery, proprietor Deborah Rogers also said the yield has been up. “We’ve milled 150 tons so far, with another 75 to 100 (tons) to go,” she said, explaining it was a dramatic increase over the 2011 harvest. “Last year we processed a total of 135 tons for the whole season.”
Cohn agreed that anything is better than last year. His trees were so barren, he didn’t even bother picking the 2011 crop, but this year will make up for the volume lost last year. “It’s very exceptional quality,” he added.
Rogers said she began picking in October and expects to continue harvesting through the end of this month, assuming no heavy frosts settle in. The harvest runs concurrent with the 12th annual Olive Season, a three-month festival of Sonoma’s “other crop.”
Beginning with the Blessing of the Olives, the festival includes olive-themed events through February, along with ongoing promotional specials on olive and olive oil products, spa treatments and more. Some of the notable events include:
• Martini Madness, set for Friday, Jan. 11, from 5 to 7 p.m. at the General’s Daughter. During this boozy event, bartenders are challenged to create the best cocktail featuring olives. Past recipes have included everything from olive oil foam to chocolate-covered olive garnishes. Tickets are $40, or $92 to include a three-course dinner.
• Feast of the Olives, on Saturday, Jan. 26, from 6 to 10 p.m. at Ramekins Culinary School, Event Center and Inn. Around a dozen Valley chefs work together to create a multi-course menu featuring all things olive, from olive oil poached salmon to black olive ice cream. Tickets are $150.
• VinOlivo Grand Tasting on Friday, Feb. 15, from 7 to 10 p.m. at the Lodge at Sonoma. Hosted by the Sonoma Valley Vintners and Growers Alliance, dozens of Valley wineries and restaurants will offer samples. Ticket price still to be announced.
• An Olive Odyssey on Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 16 and 17, at Jacuzzi Family Winery and the Olive Press. This free event will wrap up the Olive Season and includes olive tastings, a tour of the olive oil mill and discussions on olive curing techniques.
Get a full list of events and promotions at olivefestival.com