It has been ten years since Shawn and Antoinette Addison first thought of planting an olive orchard in the rolling hills below Figueroa Mountain in the Santa Ynez valley of California. With a vision of creating a very special, estate-grown product, they started by planting 4,500 trees of 9 varieties. It was not really a gamble to imagine that the highest quality extra virgin olive oil could be grown there. On any given day, the Santa Ynez valley can easily be mistaken for many parts of the Italian Tuscan countryside or the Provencal region of France; the landscape is covered with vineyards, lavender fields, and olive groves.
What makes Figueroa Farms products so special is hand-crafted quality. With a modern milling facility right on the property, the olives don’t suffer from travel-fatigue before they are transformed into fabulous extra virgin olive oils. The harvest is picked and truly pressed “at the moment” – a rarity in a world where imported produce can sit, fermenting on transport docks, for days before reaching a large-scale processing mill.
The result – Figueroa Farms’ award-winning oils have a freshness that speaks of green, grassy flavors with the aroma of real fruit. If you have tried any of the varieties, you probably already have a favorite. According to Antoinette Addison, the robust flavor of Figueroa Farm's Italian Varietals Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Camino al Cielo Extra Virgin Olive Oil are perennial best sellers. While I’m partial to the Organic Estate Blend, I am always intrigued by seasonal styles that are offered to match the best seasonal, local produce. As we celebrate springtime at the table, the spicy, robust flavor of Figueroa Farms Spring Blend Extra Virgin Olive Oil makes a great complement to grilled lamb and roasted asparagus. Or try it with the salad course. It’s a perfect match to the tangy flavor of freshly-picked arugula with salty Parmesan shavings and sun-dried tomatoes steeped in olive oil from seasons past.
Editor’s Note: Figueroa Farms is owned and operated by Shawn and Antoinette Addison, who also own The Olive Oil Source.