Forget wine; it’s olive oil season. Olive oil tasting is the inclusive way to bring a group together for an unusual and educational culinary adventure. Even those who do not drink alcohol can enjoy learning the subtle differences in types, processes and uses while learning more about each other. Here are 5 places across the country for sharing a taste of liquid gold.
1. Love That Olive, Maple Grove, Minnesota
Since 2010, Love That Olive has had foodies near and far raving over their high-quality extra virgin olive oils and balsamic vinegars sourced directly from Italy. The site, which hosts teambuilding cooking classes highlighting the mixing and matching of olive products, is a favorite on Minneapolis Northwest Tourism Taste of MNW tours.
2. Texas Hill Country Olive Company, Dripping Springs, Texas
Texas Hill Country Olive Company’s majestic 6,000-square-foot hospitality center is a magnet for groups looking for a taste of local hospitality. It sits on 17 acres of certified organic olive tree orchards and serves up tours and a bistro menu featuring their products. An outside patio seats 150 people with orchard views.
3. Queen Creek Olive Mill, Queen Creek, Arizona
Olive Oil 101 tour pairs award-winning olive oils with the rich history of Queen Creek Olive Mill. Visitors learn about the health benefits of olive oil and the strict standards required to produce high-quality varieties. To appreciate the subtle nuances of the oils, visitors are encouraged to practice bread-free taste testing.
4. The Olive Press, Sonoma, California
Tours of this family-owned operation in California’s Wine Country introduce visitors to the magic produced by the grinding stones, steel blades and centrifugal spinners involved in the cold press process. Bonus: The tasting room and gift shop shares a grand retail space with Jacuzzi Family Vineyards’ tasting room.
5. Lucero Olive Oil, Corning, California
Lucero Olive Oil is a landmark in Northern California. American Olive Farmers, the operators, have been tending orchards there for seven decades and have developed a long menu of olive oil tasting tours. Educational journeys can be scheduled in four different languages. The 120-minute connoisseur experience covers the history of Lucero Olive Oil, production techniques and how to pair olive oil with other foods.