If you are looking for something unique to do while exploring the central coast of California, then be sure to add The Grove on 41 to your list. This beautiful, family-run olive oil farm is a great place to learn more about olive oil up close. Karen, who runs the farm, is fantastic, and she displays a love for olive oil that will make you excited about it when you are done. I got a chance to spend a few hours on her farm recently, and here is all the information so you can do it yourself.
- Tasting is $10 a person by appointment only; fees are waived with a purchase of a bottle *Prices subject to change
- Set up a tasting appointment online here
- Read a full weekend itinerary for Atascadero here.
- This information is from my visit in 2016
Karen and the family took over this property in 2010. They then decided to plant olive trees in 2011, so the groves are relatively new. They have over 4,000 trees on the property, with 3,500 of the Spanish Arbequina style and 500 of the Greek Koroneiki style.
The property is located on Highway 41, about 4 miles from the freeway. You can’t even get past the gate without an appointment though, so make sure to have one if you go.
When we pulled up to the barn on the back property, we met Karen, and she introduced herself and began to tell us about olive oil. We moved over to the tasting area and sat down to learn how tasting works. Basically, you heat the oil with your hands to room temperature, then proceed to slurp it into your mouth to bring out the flavors.
It was a lot of fun, and I was surprised by how different they all were from each other. After we got through the four different varietals, we took a break to explore the property before getting into the flavored oils.
As we walked around with Karen and saw the property, I was incredibly impressed with her knowledge of olives. She told us tons of facts, including about organic growing, and it didn’t seem like there was any question that could stump her.
The property is pretty big, with lots of olive trees all set up as you would see in a vineyard.
We walked through them and got to see the small buds that were starting to grow on the branches (these turn into flowers which have an olive inside). It was a fun process to learn more about.
We also went over and saw the cottage which she rents out for events and for people to stay at, more about that here. I would love to stay there next time I am in the area as it was beautiful and inviting.
After walking around the property, we made our way back to the tasting area and sat down to try the flavored oils.
I learned that the standard process to flavor oil is to have the flavor milled with the oils, so Meyer lemon for the lemon, garlic for the garlic, etc. This is very expensive though, as the mill has to be broken down every time after a flavor to clean. For them to keep the price low, they flavor on an as-needed basis with a highly concentrated food-grade essential oil—99 % oil with 1% with the flavor. I tried a lot of the flavors, and they were all pretty good, but the highlights for me were the raspberry, praline, and garlic. It is a lot of fun to think about all of the culinary masterpieces you can make with these oils, and I was surprised by how much better they are then normal olive oils you get at the store.
After 2 hours, I paid for my oils, and we said our goodbyes. It was a great spot to explore, and Karen was a great person to explore it with. I enjoyed my time at Groves on 41, and I recommend you give it a try if you are in the area and want to learn more about this process. Let me know if you check it out in the comments.