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Always in Season: Olive Oil

Always in Season: Olive Oil
Find a bit of the Mediterranean in the sunny Central Valley

California is often labeled as having a “Mediterranean climate,” with short, wet winters separated by a sunny and dry spring, summer, and fall. So it’s no surprise that one of the Mediterranean’s most recognizable crops—olives—thrives in California too. And with the increased demand in quality olive oils—both from fine chefs, home cooks, and even gift givers—it’s easy to understand why olive orchards are tended all over the state.

One olive producer with roots that stretch back to the Mediterranean is P-R Farms Inc., located in the Central Valley near Fresno. In 1914, Vincenzo Ricchiuti left Italy and started farming here; later his son Pat bought the property. Crops include 400 acres of organically tended olive trees, the source of the family’s estate-grown, milled, and bottled Enzo Olive Oil. The oil’s distinctive grassy flavor and richness make it a popular choice for premier chefs, such as Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo of Animal in Los Angeles, who use it in savory dishes as well as a traditional olive oil cake.

Enzo Olive Oil is ultra fresh, thanks to the company’s local mill. “We’re able to run every olive within 24 hours after it’s picked,” notes Pat’s son Patrick, who has also joined the company. And now, visitors can easily sample that freshness at Enzo’s Table, a retail store in the charming Central Valley town of Clovis, just northeast of Fresno. The store sells a range of Enzo organic olive oils, as well as organic balsamic vinegars. You can also shop for premium, locally grown fruits, nuts, and produce, and foodie gift items. (Products are also sold online.) If you time your visit for lunch, you’re in luck: Enzo’s parking lot has become a food truck hub—with many of the food truck chefs using Enzo Olive Oil in their dishes.

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Organic Olive Oil with deep roots in the Central Valley
The Ricchiuti family knows a thing or two about growing a family business, and growing olives. You can say it's in their blood, as their family has been farming in California for almost 100 years. Enzo Olive Oil Company produces high quality, 100% organic olive oil from their estate in Fresno, CA.
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Laura Flippen

Discover the Central Valley

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47
December
Average (°F)
Dec - Feb
62°
High
38°
Low
Mar - May
84°
High
46°
Low
June - Aug
98°
High
62°
Low
Sept - Nov
91°
High
43°
Low

California’s heartland offers up one of the state’s most authentic and sensory-rich experiences, a chance to see—and taste—the state’s bounty at every turn. Follow oak-shaded country roads to farm stands overflowing with fresh produce, and meander along wine trails to some of the state’s most productive vineyards and low-key tasting rooms.

Peaches, plums, apricots, and tomatoes—just some of the ultra-fresh produce you will find at farm stands throughout the valley.

Throughout the broad valley, stretching for over 400 miles/644 kilometers down the middle of the state, are cities and towns rich with history, international culture, and “everyone’s welcome” charm. 

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Fresno County Blossom Trail

Explore this driving loop that bursts with flowers in the spring and fruit during summer

Spring tends to kick off early in Fresno County with a fast-and-frenzied spectacle of blooming fruit and nut trees. Starting in mid-...

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Best Kept Secret: Solano County

See why this Central Valley region holds its own in terms of good wine, pretty countryside, and cool activities

A treasure awaits about 20 miles east of Napa, in a lovely but largely “secret” area of sprawling countryside and bayfront beauty. This is...

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Find whitewater rafting fun for all—from newbies to nerves-of-steel experts

Think of a river, and chances are you’ve got your own daydream. Maybe you want to float on inner tubes, or maybe your style is to careen through raucous rapids in an eight-person inflatable raft....

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Lake Berryessa, located just outside of Winters, has a sunken city underneath it called Monticello.
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Alex Farnum

Davis

You don’t have to be a student to enjoy the perks of this ag-oriented college town

Eco-friendly, liberal leaning, progressive, impressive professor’s homes and fraternity houses—Davis has the hallmarks of a classic college...

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Farm-fresh produce, culinary adventures

Juicy heirloom tomatoes and just-picked strawberries. Super-sweet peaches shaped like mini UFOs. Artisanal cheeses, emerald-green olive oils, local wildflower honey—California’s farmers’ markets...

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Laura Flippen
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Laura Flippen

Haggin Museum

Local history merges with world-renowned art at this must-see museum in Stockton’s Victory Park

Housed in an early-19th-century brick building, this handsome art and history museum is the centerpiece of Stockton’s stately Victory Park. The 34...

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Laura Flippen

Trip 3-5 days 10 stops

California's Heartland

Pick fresh produce, relax in cool gardens, and learn about local farming heritage
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This relaxed city has some secret gems that make a pleasing start to your trip. Start at Sundial Bridge, a functional work of art, the remarkable pedestrian bridge, designed by renowned Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, spans the tree-lined, trout-filled Sacramento River in Redding’s Turtle...

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This rapidly growing city in the southern Central Valley is full of pleasant surprises. Once known for oil and agriculture, Bakersfield is morphing into a Central Valley hub for arts, culture, and sports, while still offering a glimpse of the region’s past. One fascinating historical site worth...

April

One of California’s premier universities, University of California, Davis, invites everyone to its annual open house—a chance to learn, play, touch, taste, and enjoy the leafy campus just north of...

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Courtesy of U.C. Davis College of Engineering
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Kodiak Greenwood

Gray Lodge Wildlife Area

Some 300 species of birds and mammals make this a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts

Located on the Pacific Flyway 60 miles north of Sacramento, Gray Lodge encompasses 9,200 acres surrounded by agricultural flatlands and...

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Harriot Manley/ Sunset Publishing

Houseboating

Take to the water on a deluxe floating home

In California, it’s hard to talk about houseboating without talking about the Central Valley. One of the state’s premier places for vacationing in...

October

Honor the harvest season at this remarkable, family-friendly event, hosted at the beautiful Full Belly Farm in the fertile Capay Valley. The valley, just north of Sacramento, has one of the world’...

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Harriot Manley/Sunset Publishing

California Delta

A boater’s and fisherman’s paradise awaits

Located northeast of the San Francisco Bay, this 1,000-mile network of inland waterways—the major drainage from the snow-capped Sierra Nevada to...

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Dale Goff Photography

Lodi Wine Country

Sample big, bold reds and eco-friendly winemaking

Best known for big red wines, particularly old-vine Zinfandels, this American Viticultural Area 100 miles east of San Francisco is also a leader...

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The 10 acres of rooms, passages and gardens at Fresno's Forestiere Underground Gardens were excavated by hand using only farming tools.