Fun Among the Sonoma Olive Trees

Pat Meier-Johnson oil painting of Sonoma Olive Pickers for Sonoma Olive Season exhibit at Studio 35

Sonoma Olive Pickers – 16 x 20 Oil Painting by Pat Meier-Johnson

It’s Sonoma Olive Season

To everything there is a season, and that’s certainly true here in Sonoma which is primarily know for its bountiful grape harvests and wine industry.  But like the great wine region of Tuscany, there is another crop here and it yields gold-green deliciousness. It’s the Sonoma olive and you’ll notice more and more olive trees being planted throughout the Sonoma Valley.

Father Kelly kicked off the Sonoma Olive Season with the Blessing of the Olives for years with a delightful, touching and sweetly humorous presentation at the old Sonoma historic mission.  Father Kelly (who was the perfect Hollywood image of a charming priest)  passed away suddenly last month. Just this past weekend Father JoJo Puthessary took over the happy duties.

Like anything delicious and complex, a fan base develops quickly, and olives are no exception. Throughout Sonoma experts, enthusiasts, and newbies gather to learn how to raise and cure their own olives. During Sonoma Olive Season there are numerous events where home olive farmers are happy to share tastes of olives that they have cured themselves, ranging from salty and leathery to green and crunchy. There are banquets, comedy shows, and more throughout the town.  Art exhibits at Studio 35 and Jacuzzi Winery pay homage to the olive. And then there’s Martini Madness (self explanatory). And any time of the year the Olive Press, located inside Jacuzzi Winery has a complete facility where short run olive oil is produced from a wide variety of local olives and year round offers a wide assortment of olive oils, some infused with flavors ranging from citrus to garlic and much more. Be sure to try the wines at Jacuzzi right across the hall.

Olive Pickers

Olive harvest in Sonoma

You can hardly blame folks for wanting to try their own hand at Sonoma olive harvesting and producing olive oil.  When I saw my friend Katherine Parker’s photos of her adventure at one of the the 2015 olive harvests, I was inspired to create this painting for the exhibition of olive art at Studio 35 in Sonoma where it will be on exhibit through the the 11th of January 2016.

Oh and when you head to the store to buy your next bottle of golden goodness, make sure that you take a close look at your olive oil.  A recent CBS 60 Minutes story raised some questions about the olive oil that is imported into the United States — Yet another reason for purchasing local, small run olive oil.

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