"I drive all the way from Oxnard to the Bari giftshop just so I can enjoy the most delicious and fresh olive oil they sell. I can't say enough how much I love the variety and tasty flavors that they have. Their oils always go well with any dish I make. Simply delicious!
Patty J., Oxnard, CA
You probably have olive oil in your cabinet from Italy, Spain, France, or perhaps even Greece or Chile. But did you know the U.S. also produces olive oil? And as we can attest, they are giving the imported oils a run for their money.
Some vineyard land is also ripe for growing olive trees. So it should be no surprise that California is leading the way in American olive oil production. In fact, one California oil company, California Olive Ranch, has won more than 24 best-in-class gold medals. Currently California producers are responsible for about 3 percent of the olive oil consumed in the U.S.
California isn't the only state getting into the olive oil business. High-quality oils are also coming out of the southern states, from places like Georgia, Florida, and Texas, which is projected to have 3,000,000 olive oil-producing trees by 2014.
Here are a few of the top American olive oils worth a taste:
Texas Olive Ranch
Location: Carrizo Springs, Texas
Georgia Olive Farms
Location: Lakeland, Georgia
Facts: Georgia Olive Farms is located in what has been coined the "Olive Belt," which extends from east Mississippi to the costal regions of South Carolina. Georgia Olive Farms was started in 2009 by five farmers who had hoped to resurrect olive oil production in Georgia and the surrounding states. Now, four years later, their oil is being used at some of the best restaurants in the South.
Bari Olive Oil Company
Location: Dinuba, California
Facts: Since 1936, Bari Olive Oil has been family-run. Currently a fifth-generation family member is at the helm. The company recently launched a certified organic extra-virgin olive oil.
Where to Buy: Online at barioliveoil.com
Enzo Olive Oil Company
Location: Madera, California
Facts: For more than 90 years, the Ricchiuti family has been harvesting their farm in California's San Joaquin Valley for fruit, almonds, and, of course, their estate-grown, organic extra-virgin olive oil. Their award-winning oils balance the line between fruity and spicy.
Where to Buy: bellafrutta.com
Photo Credits: California Olive Oil, Texas Olive Ranch, Georgia Olive Farm, Bari Olive Oil, Enzo Olive Oil