We had decided to go a couple of months ago, and our plans went surprisingly well. We started off our weekend with a wine tasting at Brochelle, which is now located in the same building as Hug Cellars and Barrel 27. We enjoyed several of their wines which included Grenache, Syrah, and, of course, their fantastic Zinfandel. Unfortunately, Hug Cellars was not open, and we didn’t have time to hang at Barrel 27 and track down Edgar.
After settling in at the Melody Ranch Motel and changing for our clothes for our evening festivities, we headed out to visit a couple of places. Bunny is a big fan of port, so we visited one of the Port wine tasting rooms, Roxo. It is located in the same vintage house as Chateau Margene and LimeRock Orchards. After we enjoyed the Ports (try the Negrette!), we headed towards town to the pre-festival mixer at the LaQuinta. But first, we stopped at Villicana Winery. Of course we tasted through the wines, and we also took the opportunity to enjoy Alex Villicana’s newest offering, Re:find, which is a neutral distilled brandy made from wine grapes! Villicana offers two varieties, one is neutral with characteristics similar to vodka, and the other is infused with herbs and botanicals, giving it an almost gin-like character. Both were quite
good, and we knew we’d be back after visiting the Olive Festival on Saturday.
We headed out to LaQuinta and joined the pre-Olive Festival mixer. It was a bit smaller than what I had anticipated, but it was quite educational. The dishes – with the notable exception of the cake – all had a component of olive somewhere in their recipes. Tapenade, Nachos, Crustini with Olives, and, of course, whole olives were there for the taking. There were a variety of wines available, and lots of Olive Oil. We met several of the Olive Oil producers, and learned how to do an Olive Oil tasting. It’s noisy and sounds pretty disgusting, but boy oh boy! While I’ve always loved Olive Oil, until I learned exactly *why* I love it through proper tasting, I realized that I had been missing out on the full pleasure of the oil.
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We were up very early the next morning, and when Bunny arrived, we had breakfast at the Paso Robles Inn. The breakfasts there are always good (try their Corned Beef Hash!), and it gave us the fuel we’d need for our day at the Olive Festival, which was conveniently across the street at the Paso Robles City Park.
We stopped at the Farmer’s Market before the official opening of the Olive Festival (note to self: bring lots more money next time). And then we began our Olive orgy. Wow.
Here’s what I learned: in the Paso Robles/Templeton/Atascadero area, there are at least eleven Olive Oil producers. There are more in the greater Central Coast area of California. There are more throughout the state, and many were represented at the Festival. Here are some of the highlights:
- I’m a member of the Pasolivo Press Club, and they had several tins of some of my favorites, including my favorite infused Olive Oil, which is the Lemon. Meyer Lemon. Yum.
- Several wineries also produce Olive Oil.
- One of my surprise favorites, OluvSkin, which is a line of beauty products, also produces Olive Oil for consumption.
- Olive Oil Ice Cream. It’s sinful and decadent, made more so by a drizzling of Balsamic Vinegar. Thanks to WeOlive!
- It’s possible to drink Olive Oil just as you would a glass of wine. Not recommended, but you could! Really good Olive Oil is just that delicious.
- One of the Olive Oil folks had jars of Frogs Balls. I don’t know … don’t ask.
- After a day of tasting (drinking) Olive Oil, massaging my skin with it, and rubbing the extra into my (very wild and unruly) hair, I
felt incredibly healthy.
And then there were the wines!
Some of the wineries represented were new friends, Hearst Ranch Winery (yes, from *the* Hearst! – and an absolutely KILLER Cab Franc), Christian Lazo, Barr Estate,Graveyard, Changala, Cayucos Cellars,Derby Wine Estates. And of course, our old friends (and one of my first wine club memberships) Castoro Cellars, Sculpterra Winery, and Eberle. There were also San Marcos Creek, Grizzly Republic and Laraneta wineries, too. No day of warmth and sunshine (mostly) would be complete without a good brew. Central Coast Brewing also made an appearance, and the beers were quite luscious!
I am definitely planning to go again next year. I learned a lot, but it was only the beginning. What I took away was the fact that California makes extraordinary Olive Oils. The proximity of California to Nevada – hell, its proximity to the rest of the nation! – makes California Olive Oils a special treat and a wonderful value. They are fresh, fruity, peppery, and delicious. The surprise for me was that there were so many differences between the Olive Oils that it reminded me of the differences between wines. My plan is to stock up next year!
Later that day, we visited Villicana again where we picked up a few wines and the re:find that The Wineaux Guy™ enjoyed so much, and then went to visit Vines on the Marycrest. Victor took us on a tour of his soon-to-be-completed wine tasting room, and we enjoyed a few tastes before walking out with a case. Of course!
It was a wonderful weekend spent in a town that I love so very much.
Meanwhile, enjoy my short little video about the Olive Festival weekend.
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