A while ago I wrote an article about Sonoma’s second largest harvest (and industry), olive oil, and learned so much about this growing industry in the heart of Northern California Wine Country. During the quiet winter months of January and February, the Sonoma Valley is busy harvesting, milling and bottling their delicious olive oil. The Sonoma Valley Olive Festival is now in its 11th year and is again in the midst of sponsoring an assortment of events. I’m particularly interested in wineries that are designating a portion of their vineyards to olive trees, providing a symbiotic growing habitat for the grapes and olives. Everyone benefits, including pollinators and other important members of a biodynamic ecological environment. One winery in particular is rapidly becoming a leader in this practice. Benziger Winery produces not only organic wines, but amazing olive oil. This year’s olive harvest was historic and I can’t wait to pick up a bottle when I attend this weekend’s Olive Festival-sponsored event, The Feast of the Olive.
At this gala, held every year at the beautiful Ramekins Culinary School and Inn, 19 area chefs will be contributing to a series of menus for guests. Each table is assigned a group of chefs that compose a menu featuring the Valley’s olive oil and olive. Any of these chefs will be welcome at my table, and I’m particularly excited to sample dishes from Hot Box Grill and Glen Ellen Star’s chefs. Both are relatively new dining destinations to the Valley and are on everyone’s radar.
I can’t wait to report back, armed with olive oil recipes and tasting notes.