Take a Break from Napa Valley's Grapes with an Olive Oil Tasting

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The blue glasses hide the color of the oils, so you can just focus on the taste…

If you’re sick and tired of sipping and sampling award winning wine after award winning wine there’s another tasting opportunity for you to check out in Napa Valley. The region also produces some pretty nice olive oils, so why not take a break from the vineyard and head over to the olive mill at Round Pond Estate.

We recently visited and took them up on their Olive Mill Experience offering, and we’ve got to say it’s one of the best things we did when checking out the area. The visit starts with a quick walk over to the field where the olive trees mix and mingle with the grapes, and you get to learn a little bit about the trees, their temperament, and everything else involved with the harvest. Just be sure to take the guide’s advice—olives fresh off the tree are terribly bitter—we needed to confirm this for ourselves, and will never forget that experience.

Anyway, the next stop takes you into the mill that is pretty darn impressive, especially considering some of the equipment that they ordered all the way from Italy. We just hope they had a discount on shipping, because that big granite rock responsible for squishing and squashing the olives has to weigh a couple of tons.

Rides in this thing were unfortunately not available during our visit…

After learning about this and that it’s time to taste, and they have a pretty nice sit-down setup as you to your best to slurp and sip up the oils. Groups are limited to no more than ten, so it’s only slightly embarrassing when you’re making noises as you try out the different options. There’s plenty of peppery notes and spiciness to be had on the freshest of the varieties, and it kind of provides a little bit of a kick—in a good way.

Red wine vinegars are also sampled, and these are pretty much sucked right off a sugar cube. It was a neat way to try things, and we guess the rationale is that the sugar cuts the bitterness from the vinegar allowing the true tastes to come right through. As the tasting continues out comes fresh breads, cheeses, vegetables, meats, and of course a little Sauvignon Blanc to wash it all down. The guide couldn’t have been more welcoming, and he was quick to encourage us to try this, try that, and to request more and more.

Tastings are $45 per person—it just went up by $10—and appointments are required, but they do run things a few times per day. There’s a lot to sample between the oils, vinegars, bread, local produce, and fruit syrups, so don’t make dinner reservations right after checking out the olives. We had a couple hours before dinner, and we should have left even more time than that. If you want to add some more wine pairings to the experience it’s another $10, as you’ll get to test out some of Round Pond Estate’s better vintages.

Finally, for those that don’t have two and half hours to dedicate to the full tour and tasting there’s also a quick version where you can check things out—a Splash and Dash Tasting. No appointment needed, and here you can check out similar stuff for just $15 per person. However, it’s strictly a standup affair without all the tasty side dishes. Either way we’re thinking you can’t go wrong, and if you still need more wine the rest of Round Pond Estate is just across the street.

Source jaunted

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