By Sarah Doyle
Tucked beneath a canopy of knobby-kneed oaks, Pasolivo, in Paso Robles, Calif., creates what are perhaps some of the most vibrantly-flavored olive oils in the world. At least that’s the message from the year’s International Olive Oil Competition in Los Angeles, where the company won two best-in-show awards.
In an area known primarily as one of the country’s most prolific wine regions, Pasolivo’s tasting room and shop are a welcome sight to weary, numb-tongued wine tasters who are in need of a palate cleanser. There, visitors can sample the yield of over 9,000 estate-grown olive trees. Not only are the olives hand-harvested, they’re also crushed, bottled, and labeled on-site.
“It’s almost unheard of for an olive oil producer to do everything themselves,” says manager Joeli Yaguda, whose husband, Joshua, is the company’s olive miller. “It’s a massive commitment, but it really allows us to control every step of the production process.”
Glowing in various shades of citrine, Pasolivo’s extra-virgin oils are fervent in flavor. The Estate Tuscan blend exudes a grassy intensity and sharp, spicy finish; it’s particularly pungent within the first three months after bottling when it is known as olio nuovo, or “new oil.”
Customers seeking a companion for grilled fish—or virtually any vegetable on the planet—gravitate towards Pasolivo’s citrus olive oils. Radiating the summery perfume of freshly-squeezed tangerines, limes, and meyer lemons, these oils are made by adding pure citrus oil to the olives while they’re crushed.
After an informative guided tour, which shows off an impressive Italian Pieralisi olive mill, the tasting bar becomes fills customers who clamor for samples. Chunks of local artisanal bread are dipped in pools of olive oil then sprinkled with feathery flakes of Cyprus Black Lava Salt. Oohs and aahs ensue. Shopping baskets become heavy—not only with olive oil—but also with handmade chocolates infused with tangerine olive oil, olives stuffed with bleu cheese, and bread—an ultra-chewy, thick-crusted loaf by Ciro Pasciuto that is sold for $3 a pound on Fridays and Saturdays.
The olive oils range in price from $16 to $30 for 200-milliliter to 500-milliliter bottles. Act with haste, however: Pasolivo’s oils have sold out each year since the company began selling them to the public seven years ago.
Pasolivo Olive Oil
8530 Vineyard Drive, Paso Robles, CA 93446
Phone: (805) 227-0186
Hours: Friday through Sunday, 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and by appointment.
Prices: Range between $16-$30 per bottle