Southern California’s Ojai Valley has a lot going for it, from the rustic, charming town of Ojai to the picturesque landscape dotted with small family farms. It’s also an ideal place to grow olives.
The grove at the Asquith Ranch, home of the Ojai Olive Oil Co., dates back to the 1880s, when Lechin de Sevilla olive trees were first planted on the property. After the late Ronald H. Asquith bought a parcel of the land in 1996, he decided to make this special grove the basis of an olive oil company.
In the following years he planted seven more varieties, including Italian, French, and Spanish olives, and brought the total number of trees up to 3,000. The heritage grove, now more than 130 years old, is still in production. Today the ranch is managed by Asquith’s son Philip, with the help of Alice de Dadelsen-Asquith, and they use only organic farming practices and harvest by hand.
The ranch offers free educational tours every Wednesday and Saturday, starting in the original grove and ending in the tasting room. Scheduling is a laid-back affair, with no reservations necessary and no particular starting time. When people show up, the staff simply gathers together whoever is interested, and a tour begins—typically once an hour.
If you’d rather skip ahead, you can go straight to the tasting room to sample Ojai’s certified organic extra virgin olive oils, infused oils, balsamic vinegars, and olive oil skin care products.