Apr 12, 2014

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First Annual Pacific Northwest Cool Climate Extra Virgin Olive Oil Conference

olive tree

Cool climate olives at Red Ridge Farms

You read that correctly, folks:  Cool Climate Extra Virgin Olive Oil Conference. Taking place at the only estate olioteca in the Pacific Northwest, Oregon Olive Mill,  this exclusive conference will be held over the course of a weekend, Saturday and Sunday, April 26 and 27. On Saturday, a technically focused program will feature sessions on agronomy, cool climate varieties, a round table discussion on cultivating quality and more.   The Sunday sessions, aimed at a broader audience, will explore creating an olive oil culture in the Pacific Northwest, Extra Virgin Olive Oil origin and labeling, and tasting and sensory analysis.

According to Oregon Olive Mill Master Miller and fourth generation farmer, Paul Durant, “We saw unprecedented demand last year and sold out of our oils earlier than ever before. Our new initiatives support my family’s larger vision, which is to propel Extra Virgin Olive Oil to its rightful place in the North American food scene. Extra Virgin Olive Oil can elevate cuisine in an almost ethereal manner; yet it remains largely under appreciated by the average American consumer.”

olive frantoio

The newly released Frantoio that is just waiting to please my palate

Frantoio, the new single Italian varietal, joins a portfolio of three Extra Virgin Olive Oils — Tuscan, Arbequina and Koroneiki (three oils I seriously delighted in during a Fall Harvest Dinner I attended several months ago at Red Ridge Farms – home of the Oregon Olive Mill).  Paul sources some olives from his family’s 17-acre grove and prime sites in Northern California, then mills and bottles them at the property’s estate olioteca. Oregon Olive Mill is the first certified modern milling operation in Oregon, founded in 2008 by the Durant family. Now fifth generation Oregon farmers and early wine industry pioneers, Oregon Olive Mill is home to 13,000 olive trees planted on 17 of the family’s 120 acres; along with, a state-of-the-art Italian mill.  With the recent arrival of a sample bottle of the newly released Frantoio, my mouth waters simply thinking of the sensory delight that is lying in wait.

Featured conference speakers include Paul Durant and Libby Clow of Oregon Olive Mill, Jim Dixon of RealGoodFood.com, Samantha Dorsey of California’s McEvoy Ranch, Dan Flynn of University of California at Davis, Nancy Harmon Jenkins, food writer and olive oil expert and Tom Vail of Oregon’s Calamity Hill Vineyard and Farm.  The weekend will conclude with an Extra Virgin Olive Oil-inspired dinner prepared by James Beard awarding winning chef, Vitaly Paley.

Tickets for the 40 available slots can be ordered by phoning 503-864-8502 or online at nwevooconference.eventbrite.com.  Pricing is $60 per daily session, $50 for dinner or $150 for a weekend pass.

Red Ridge Farms gift shop with olive oil tasting, guest suite and nursery - overlooking the olive grove

Red Ridge Farms gift shop with olive oil tasting, guest suite and nursery – overlooking the olive grove


Later this year, Oregon Olive Mill will unveil a newly designed Extra Virgin Olive Oil tasting and sensory experience using the official blue competition glass.  The Elevated Blue Glass tasting will begin with a guided tour of the mill followed by an introductory tasting of four estate-milled oils.  The Expert Blue Glass tasting adds a selection of proteins, starches, vegetables and sweets to demonstrate how Extra Virgin Olive Oil elevates even the simplest of foods.  Guests will also have the option to include Durant Vineyards wines with the Expert Blue Glass tasting to explore how wine and olive oil work in concert to further elevate cuisine.  These experiences are available by appointment for $20, $35 and $55 per person, respectively.  For reservations call 503-864-8502.  Visitors to Red Ridge Farms may also continue to enjoy complimentary olive oil tasting in the gift shop. The oils are sold online at www.redridgefarms.com and at Red Ridge Farms in Dayton, Oregon.

Check out this awesome photo essay I put together for my Local Lunch Gals column on Eugene Daily News: Local Lunch Gals – Fall Harvest Dinner at Red Ridge Farms

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