March winds sweep across lowlands to undulating hills and valleys, where deep grasses rush like waves to an imaginary Mediterranean shore. In olive orchards, silvery white and green leaves shimmer on the zephyr and on warm autumn days, rich fruit dangles as precious jewels. Throughout Yolo County, they promise a bountiful treasure of liquid gold.
As in ancient times, the ripened fruit delivers a heavenly elixir. Among the oldest cultivated trees in the world, olives spread from Asia Minor (Turkey) to the Mediterranean thousands of years ago. The Mission varietal brought to Mexico as cuttings by Jesuit missionaries was first planted at Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcalá in 1769.
Eventually growing as far north as San Francisco Solano de Sonoma (Sonoma Mission), these same Mission olives made their way to John Wolfskill’s ranch along Putah Creek in what is now Winters, California. Thanks in part to Wolfskill’s horticultural expertise, California’s olive industry flourished. Over time, supply exceeded demand, olive prices fell and so did the olive oil industry. Only in the past few years have producers and consumers renewed their love affair for California olive oil. And today, Yolo County olive oil is gaining a reputation as among the best in the country. It’s time to discover it for yourself. more