It’s remarkable how olive oil has walked in the same footprint as wine in recently capturing the public’s fancy for flavor. No longer content to use the plain tasting traditional olive oil their ancestors used, like wine, it’s what’s new and different.Olive oil boutiques are sprouting up in shopping districts with tasting events booking fast. A new genre of marketing terms has the U.S. Department of Agriculture scrambling for standards.
Extra virgin, light with lemon, unfiltered, cold-pressed — the variety of olive oil on the shelves is confusing at best, and has never been defined, until now. Now, scientific standards for “virgin” and extra-virgin” will be enforced later this year, leveling the playing field for small producers and retailers.
Why the rush to olive oil? For wineries, it’s simple. This is a ready cash crop that they can sell almost as soon as they can pick their olives, crush them and bottle them, while their wine ages in barrels for a year or much more before being sold.
Nutritionists keep telling us what those in Mediterranean countries have known for centuries; olive oil is the backbone of a rustic, farm-to-table diet that will keep your weight down and put years on to your life. Sprinkled in salads, added to pastas, a dip for home-made bread, this tasty and nutritious liquid gold, is medicinal, magical and dependable. It can last at least a year on the shelf and will not go rancid.
Up in Temecula, Villa Calabro Winery and Olive Oil Company in Old Town Temecula with Mike Calabro, a wine and olive oil maker, does olive oil tasting with extra virgin olive oil and flavor-infused accents such as garlic, scallion, rosemary, basil and oregano. It is one of only two locations in Southern California that make their own olive oil. Call for hours at (951) 695-4525.
Baker and Olive is a more urban operation in Encinitas, and now in Carmel Valley. They specialize in freshly pressed extra virgin olive oil and nicely aged balsamic vinegars. Fresh homemade breads are also sold. For more on Baker and Olive, call (760) 944-7840.
At harvest, olive picking is by hand with a wide net at the base of the tree to catch them. Baskets (in Italy they’re called cassettas) should make about 3 liters of olive oil. Extra virgin olive oil is considered the finest and means there has been no chemical treatment to enhance and refine the product. It also has nearly no acidity , thus a vastly superior taste.
Villa Capri 2 presents Chateau Montelena Wines
A rare and historic occasion is coming to San Diego on July 26 when Villa Capri 2 brings Napa Valley’s Chateau Montelena in for a five-course dinner and wine tasting, starting at 6 p.m. This follows a historic wine event recently with the Italian favorite, Allegrini from Valpolicella.
The restaurant enriches its wine dinner events with a passion for a sweeping variety of great tastes. On the Allegrini night, diners feasted on calamari, salmon, ravioli, New Zealand lamb chops and special homemade dessert. The best Allegrini of the evening was the Amarone blend, 2007, the “Palazzo Della Torre.” Chateau Montelena is sure to please and sell out. It is priced at $75 per person. Call in an RSVP at (858) 538-5884.
Northern Italian wines are tasted from 4o to 8:30 p.m. June 29 at Bacchus Wine Market in the Gaslamp, downtown San Diego. Cost is $20 for seven tastes from Barolo, Amarone and elsewhere. Call (619) 236-0005 for details.
Falkner Winery in Temecula is celebrating their 12th anniversary June 30 and July 1. Lots of Jazz music, winery tours, hourly raffles and big discounts on wines and lunches in the Pinnacle Restaurant. More info at (951) 676-8231, ext. 1.
Carruth Cellars in Solana Beach is having a bottling party from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. June 30 and July 1. They are bottling 2,900 wines. Cost to participate is $30. and includes a bottle of the new wine and live entertainment. Call (858) 847-9463 for details.
The new Marina Kitchen in the Marriott San Diego Marina is presenting Social Media Day on June 30. Enthusiasts are urged to mix, mingle and network. Time will be 5 to 9 p.m. Food and wine sampling highlighted. First 100 get a goodie bag with free items. To RSVP this free event, visit socialmediadaysandiego.com.
Flemings La Jolla wants you to celebrate your favorite wines with complimentary corkage, now thru Aug. 31. Limit two bottles per visit. Fleming’s First Friday features Paso Robles wines from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. July 6. Cost is $25 per person. For more information, call (858) 535-0078.