Round Pond in Napa Valley is famous for its olive mill and Fresh Olive Oil Day in the late fall. A number of places around California grow their own olives and make their own oils and then -- hooray -- give the public a chance to taste the goods.
The rites of spring get a lot of play in our culture -- think leaping through fields and picking daisies and running hand-in-hand over green hills, if you like -- but the rites of autumn, for whatever reason, are far less sung.
They exist, of course. Harvest is a big one, and the return to school, and all of those Halloween traditions. And one of the nicest and juiciest rites, at least around Pasadena, has long been the gathering of olives around the Caltech campus.
Open to both students, faculty, and the community, the olive harvest served as a way to collect the small orbs, orbs that later get turned into olive oil sold by the school.
But alas, there shall be no olive gathering at Caltech in 2013. That happens, of course, depending on annual factors, but if you were looking forward to this particular rite, where's the right place to look next?
California has a number of olive oil makers and purveyors, though, for SoCalers, they may be a bit of a drive. Still, if you want to do the tasting/swishing/enjoying thing, you might make for...
Ojai: The Ojai Olive Oil Company offers tours at the bucolic ranch on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Make that tours *and* tastings. How are the tiny orbs pressed? How many does it take to make an ounce of oil? All interesting and flavorful factoids for the oil aficionado.
Ojai: Not too faraway is another tasting opportunity, this one at Regalo. The tastings go down on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sunday "in The Grove," which sounds plenty beautiful and appropriate to the enjoyment of olive-based oils. If you need to mill some of your own olives, there's a way to do that, too.
Rutherford: Napa Valley is indeed known for another small orb -- the grape -- but olive oil makes a strong showing, too, especially at spots like Round Pond Estate. Tempted to try and purchase some of the finest oils in the state? Fresh Olive Oil Day is ahead, on Dec. 8.