Journal

April 4, 2024

Field Notes | How It All Began with Farmer Brooke

As a young adult, I dreamed of growing and selling farm to table foods for my own brand. Growing up in Southern California, I developed a love for the ocean and natural world. My affinity for the land, healthy living, and natural foods eventually led me to move north in order to study Agriculture at Humboldt State and then on to Arizona to complete my studies at Prescott College. My vision was to grow nutritious, organic foods, and sell them to my community in the San Francisco Bay Area. In the early days, I sold my crops at Farmers Markets. In 2000, my dream to own land finally became a reality when I purchased 88 acres of pastureland in Sebastopol. Over the next few years I planted orchards with olive, apple, and citrus trees and Gold Ridge Organic Farms was born!

Luther Burbank Called it one of the best climates in the world...

Located 50 miles northwest of San Francisco in West Sonoma County, the farm's proximity to the Pacific Ocean offers unique conditions for farming. Temperatures are cooler here, thanks to our ridge top location and breezes from the Sonoma Coast. I have found the single biggest factor that changes the quality of food is the climate. So here, there is a pronounced fog influence. Fog is a rare beautiful phenomenon, a natural wonder. During the summer, the fog is much more pronounced because there is a tug-of-war happening between the heat in the Central Valley and the cold air off of the ocean. This moderates the climate.

Where we’re located is called a cool coastal influence. What that means during the summertime is that we get a nice cooling effect starting in the afternoon and throughout the whole evening. Then it burns off at about 10 am and then comes back in the afternoon. That repeats most days. It’s this beautiful dance that takes place all summer. It creates what Luther Burbank calls one of the best climates in the world. The Gold Ridge soil is among the best in the country: the sandy loam possesses an ideal natural chemical balance and provides excellent drainage. 

 

 
Why olives, apples, and citrus?

 

I started out back in 2000 with heirloom apples, a diversity of table grapes, plums, Euro pears, and Asian pears. I still have the pears, but it’s only a couple percent of what I grow. The table grapes didn’t really do what I wanted so I pulled those up and started putting Fuji apples on trellises. At that time, Honeycrisp was bursting on the scene. I was waiting to see how that transpired, but I did start planting them. Today, 90% of the apples I have are split evenly between Fuji and Honeycrisp and about 10% are still the heirloom apples. So I call the heirloom apples, ‘the spice’ and I call the Fuji and Honeycrisp, ‘the bread and butter. The olive trees not only struck me as incredibly beautiful, but they are able to thrive in dry, warmer climates. This bounty of fruit varieties produce crops that nourish and are able to be used in so many different ways — from Extra Virgin olive oils, apple cider vinegars and syrups, to citrus infused olive oils, soaps, and more.

I hope that you are able to come and visit us at Gold Ridge Organic Farms to see, touch, smell, and taste the difference that sustainable and organic farming makes. Until then, please enjoy our farm products and feel good about knowing where they came from - and know that they were made with love.

 

Brooke Hazen, Founder and Farmer

 

 

 

March 18, 2024

Field Notes | Seven Olive Pruning Tips from Farmer Brooke Hazen

Olive Pruning at Gold Ridge Organic Farms typically  occurs in the mid to late winter months, several weeks following the conclusion of harvest and pressing of the estate olives. Learn best practices for caring for and tending your olive trees with Farmer-Founder Brooke Hazen.

 

 

1.    Why do olive trees need to be pruned?  Olive trees need to be pruned for several reasons. The first reason is to allow light to penetrate the canopy so that the fruits can ripen well. The second reason also has to do with allowing light penetration, but this has to do with reducing scale. The third reason is to allow air flow to reduce fungal disease, as well as better penetration of organic sprays. And the fourth reason is to control the size of the tree, both for in-row access of cultural controls and harvest, as well as topping them for light penetration to the food canopy.

 

2.    When is the time range to plan pruning of your olive trees?  We are limited mainly by how much time we have during the months we are not harvesting olives and apples to get this done. In general, pruning in winter will promote a stronger response of growth from the trees during the upcoming season. Pruning in summer slows down this growth simply because growth is already being stopped and even taken away. Spring pruning would straddle these two different effects. I prefer winter pruning because I want to take away vegetative growth for better light and air penetration. Most importantly, winter pruning allows for the trees to recover and produce flowers and fruit as quickly as possible. This minimizes the negative impact on fruit production.

 

3.    How do you know the perfect timing and what do you look for? There really is no perfect timing to look for. When you have the time and energy, just go for it!

 

4.    Is there a difference in pruning considerations depending on your climate/location? There are differences based on different harvesting techniques, such as Super-High Density or High-Density over-the-row harvesters, valley-floor mechanical arm-shaking harvesters, hand or pole raking, and, of course, good old-fashioned hand harvesting. Most of us use either hand or pole raking, or hand harvesting techniques. In this case, Open-Vase Bush pruning is the best shape because it keeps the trees shorter and allows light and air penetration.

 

5.    What are the necessary tools for pruning? If you start early in the life cycle of your trees and stay on it annually or bi-annually, you really only need hand pruners and loppers. Felco brand makes great tools for hand pruning. Maintaining a sharp blade with a hand stone or file is important. Keeping your tools clean is important too, in order to present the potential spread of disease from one tree to another.

 

6.    What are the steps in pruning? Avoid pruning the outside of the tree, unless necessary for access. This is what I call the Food Pantry. Don’t bite the hand that feeds you. Early in the life cycle of your tree, you will want to form a main scaffold of the strongest branches. Central branches and suckers that block light and suck energy should be removed. Suckers at the base of the tree should also be removed. And lastly, the trees should be topped around 11 feet to enable easy harvest, as well as allow light and air flow.

 

7.    Any other considerations? You can learn this, and you can do this! Farming is a wonderful process of intuition, observation, and constantly growing. I learned all of this myself over my 30-year career from trial and error.

 

 

January 18, 2024

What Makes Olio Nuovo so Exceptional?

It’s Olio Nuovo season at Gold Ridge Organic Farms! Now’s your chance to taste the freshest, liveliest olive oil from West Sonoma County. These Organic California olive oils from our 2023 harvest are only on offer during the next couple of months. Robust and racy, bold and bright, our unfiltered, first of the season olive oil offers a wallop of big flavors and big health benefits. Sign up for a guided Olio Nuovo tasting in our warm and welcoming Sebastopol Farm Shop or order a selection of our four estate Olio Nuovo olive oils from our web shop. This is a seasonal offering, and when it’s gone, it’s gone until next year.  

What is Olio Nuovo?  

Olio Nuovo is Italian for “new oil.” It is what we call the first, freshest oil pressed at the beginning of the year’s olive harvest. The harvest typically begins in late November through the end of December. This year, the olive harvest at Gold Ridge Organic Farms continues through January. It is unfiltered, bold and piquant.  

When is it available?  

Olio Nuovo is the first olive oil we make during the harvest and milling season. We typically begin with our Picholine blocks. This year, the French blend of olives were picked, milled, and bottled just after Thanksgiving 2023. It was followed by Minerva in early December and Tuscan Blend in mid-December. We are currently picking and milling the last of the Arbequina blocks now, in late January.  

Our Olio Nuovo will be available for sale in our Farm Shop and online through our website during the first few months of the year. We will typically end sales of Olio Nuovo in early spring, when our 2023 Extra Virgin olive oils will become available.  

What makes Olio Nuovo special?  

You'll taste the difference! Olio Nuovo is the freshest olive oil we offer. It is unaged and unfiltered, bottled directly after milling and still containing the bits of olive sediment that remain after milling. These tiny, flavor-packed particles remain suspended in a thick, luscious olive oil that tastes vividly fresh, spicy, and fruity. While the oil is green when first pressed, it turns more golden as these fine, pulpy solids settle. Our CCOF Certified Organic olive oils are grown and milled onsite in our modern, state-of-the-art Itallian Rapanelli olive press After the olives are shaken from the trees and gathered in nets, the olives are whisked away from the orchard directly to our mill for processing within mere hours of harvest. This ensures the freshest flavor and highest medicinal quality. 

Does Olio Nuovo offer unique health benefits?  

Like all fresh produce, olives (and olive oil) have the highest health benefits when they’re really fresh. Since our Olio Nuovo is made and sold right after milling, it delivers higher levels of polyphenols (the antioxidant compounds that support good heart health) and tocopherols (fat-soluble vitamins) than any other type of extra virgin olive oil, making it one of the healthiest fats you can add to your diet. Olive oil’s polyphenol levels will decline as it ages, so we suggest enjoying your Olio Nuovo within two to three months of opening.  

Is Olio Nuovo Extra Virgin?  

Yes, all our Estate Organic California olive oils are Certified Extra Virgin by the California Olive Oil Council (CCOC)All our olive oils have undergone a rigorous third-party testing process, including both lab-based chemical analysis and evaluation by trained tasting panels, to verify that the oil is free of flaws and adulteration and reaches all the sensory (color, aroma, flavor) benchmarks established for top-quality olive oil.  

What’s the best way to serve Olio Nuovo?  

We suggest using our Olio Nuovo as a condiment, dipping or finishing oils, so their robust flavors can shine. Drizzle them on soups, use them for dipping bread or focaccia, swirl them over hummus, gloss up your avocado or ricotta toast, give a generous glug over a radicchio and citrus salad or toss steamed kale, broccoli, or cauliflower with Olio Nuovo and your favorite salt.  

 

 

I am so gleeful knowing I’m soon receiving these lovely products. Thank you! My son and I visited a few months ago—enjoyed some fresh oils. I’m truly a happy customer

Rahim Q., Grapevine, TX

My gift arrived and it was so fun to open! What an amazing small business... totally impressed with how everything was wrapped and packaged for shipping! Honeycrisp apples are my favorite and I can't wait to try the syrup. What an extravagant gift... everything looks delicious!

Ausma K.

Your EVOO is excellent and the best value I have found! We are repeat customers (in Connecticut) and will keep coming back!

Michael G., Plainville, CT

The Picholine Blend: Excellent per usual, thanks again.

Ty J., Hemet, CA

Absolutely love the flavor, texture and the overall taste of the Minerva Olio Nuovo. The high polyphenol count, USDA Organic and California certification are very important to me. The quality of your operation from the way you grow, harvest, process, store and ship your product is superb! Awesome customer experience every time I call. Very informative and pleasant to talk with. Extremely happy with Gold Ridge Organic Farms! I’m a customer for life. I have also referred Gold Ridge to several family members. My cousin loves your olive oil as much as I do. She mentioned to me that she hasn’t had such quality and flavor since we were kids growing up in our old world Greek cultural environments. Both of our fathers were in the restaurant business. In addition, the women of the households were incredible authentic Mediterranean cooks as well. That’s a great testament to your company and the quality of your products.

Matt M., Longmeadow, MA

Your EVOO is extraordinarily delicious! The oils are smooth, flavorful, and absolutely outstanding. I found your EVOO to be perfect for drizzling on cooked vegetables, and salads; although I use it anywhere I would previously use butter or a spread. The taste is simply incredible. Thank goodness you ship to the east coast; I'm so glad I found you and I will continue to be a customer.

Carol T., Hackettstown, NJ

My feedback on the Olio Nuovo Tuscan Blend 2022 Harvest: OUTSTANDING oil. If freshness is what it's all about, then you guys are DEFINITELY the WINNER.

Leslie H., Oak Harbor, WA

My feedback on the Minerva Blend 2021 EVOO: Your Olive oil is fantastic! It is probably the best I've ever had. I am 100% Greek and grew up with an immigrant father who believed in quality food. As soon as I open the bottle, the aroma hit me. It reminded me of my childhood and how delicious food used to smell. My cousin tried it first and contacted me to tell me all about it. From now on this is my oil. Absolutely love it!

Ann V., Buzzards Bay, MA

My feedback on the Olio NUOVO Minerva Blend 2022: Very happy with the Minerva Olive Oil! Excellent taste, the best quality olive oils l have ever tried. Also, great service. I like being able to speak with someone on the phone when I have a question. You offer a customer service experience whenever I call. You have a customer for life. Also, have references several to your company. Recently, my cousin has ordered a bottle of the Minerva and loves as much as I do.

Matt M., Longmeadow, MA

I loved your OLIO NUOVO Arbequina Blend! It makes the best salad dressing (with lemon juice, salt & pepper) and I’m glad it has a high percentage of polyphenols! I had bought olive oil from a different farm before and it wasn't as good as your oil. We are getting ready to order again.

Beth S., Louisville, KY

I saw this olive oil on La Briffe recommended by Ruth Reichl. I love olive oil. My grandmother was from Croatia and she cooked with olive oil as did my mother way before it was chic to do. I am a native Californian and I live in Georgia. I miss California and I love La Briffe and Ruth's recommendations for things like your olive oil. It keeps me in touch with all things California.

Pam H., Decatur, GA

I haven’t encountered many American olive oils that knocked me out, but this one from Gold Ridge Organic Farms in Sebastapol is exceptionally good.

Ruth Reichl, James Beard Award Winner, Food Writer & Chef

We really appreciated the informative and tasty presentations as well as farmer Brooke’s informative tour of the orchard. A+ Everyone was super nice.

Blane H., Cloverdale, CA

Always happy with your olive oil! Someday we hope to visit the farm. It looks beautiful!

Ryan J., Portland, OR

I learned so much about apples! Thanks. I thought the oil tasting was so well organized and I enjoyed the experience very much. I’ll be spending more on olive oil Now. Thanks!

Sara S., Sebastopol, CA

Love your organic olive oils - they are amazing! Whenever we are in the area will visit.

Scott B., San Diego, CA

I love the Meyer Lemon Olive Oil! A friend brought a bottle for me to try and I am in love. I am a personal chef and I plan to make this a regular finishing oil. I am taking it with me back east to share with friends!

Heidi L., Sebastopol, CA

I love our olive oil! Thank you.

Lisa M., Port Washington, NY

Love your olive oil, thanks!

Ryan J., Portland, OR

The Arbequina Blend olive oil is simply wonderful, and the shipping was very fast! Thank you!

Barb G., Post Falls, ID

I like the VOLO Chocolate with Meyer Lemon. Kind of satiny, not too sweet. That’s good in my book! I like the olive oil in that one too. Kind of creamy and nourishing.

Ginny A., Plainfield, MA

I saw the farm store sign from the road and came in to explore. I'm so glad I did. I tasted, and chose some gorgeous oils and vinegars too & chocolate! Some really special gifts available. Great packaging & nice hospitality. Thank you. I'll be back.

Penny L., Sonoma County, CA

Your facility is beautiful! Your olive oil is fantastic, and the specialty chocolate with olive oil is super delicious (wish they made at least 80% chocolate to cut down on the sugar). As an aside, I absolutely loved the front gates!

Bonnie K., San Francisco Bay Area, CA

My feedback on Meyer Lemon Blend Olive Oil: I love it and think you’re doing great work…a credit to the community!

Barbara C., Santa Rosa, CA

AMAZING true olive oil! The taste and texture is divine, but for us this oil has been a blessing beyond the gourmet, our autistic son has had tremendous leaps forward in healing and development, this oil is truly brain food pure and healing. Thank you for what you do!

Laina S., Naples, FL

[The tour and tasting were] very interesting and informative. Thank you.

Kristen T., Sonoma County, CA

I learned so much! Loved the samples - very generous! I am sharing my purchases with my friends, too. I made pancakes to try the apple syrup and that was a hit! Thanks to the polite and knowledgeable staff. We had a great time! We bought a few items, for us and as gifts. You have an impressive operation that we will continue to support! Thank you for your customer care, attention to detail, and knowledge. Excellence shows!

Gerard G., Napa, CA

The best, unparalleled olive oil I’ve ever had! Apple cider syrup is also second to none! What is the most impressive to me is that all of the ingredients are freshly grown, organically made! Simply the best!

Jeongbum S., San Francisco Bay Area , CA

The taste and texture is divine, but for us this oil has been a blessing beyond the gourmet, our autistic son has had tremendous leaps forward in healing and development, this oil is truly brain food pure and healing. Thank you for what you do!

Laina S., Naples, FL

A friend gifted me the assorted tins for Christmas and I am very impressed. Delicious oil. As I cannot do dairy and do not like margerines I found scrambling my egg in this olive oil was sublime. You don't want to waste it on dishes where you cannot get the full impact of its delicious flavor. I am hooked.

Jean M., Grants Pass, OR

I will NEVER go back to store bought oils! The difference in taste between fresh and store bought was extraordinary.

Sheryl P., Cheboygan, MI

My entire experience was wonderful. The order arrived in a very timely manner, and the product is excellent!

Barb G., Bonners Ferry, ID

We love the Honeycrisp-Fuji Apple Cider syrup! Thank you!

Sarah H., Culver City, CA

Great products, excellent service!

Karen K., Los Angeles, CA

Recipients of the EVOO were delighted. Nice to get positive feedback from foodies.

Yvonne , Sebastopol, CA

Very good people and service.

Mateo S.

Always a pleasure working with Gold Ridge Organic Farms for custom milling. Very professional, helpful and friendly.

Bill M.

Delicious products and a beautiful view.

Steven M.

So far have been splashing Minerva on our pasta. No more boring pasta dinners! The details were also good - packing material, gold tab on bottle for opening, info for using each oil, drop down tab to cover spout opening, etc… Every detail well planned.

Patti L., Bellevue, WA

Thank you providing this service to our community. I was so happy to be able to have my olives individually milled this year. In the past I have always participated in a community press. So this is the first time I have been able to taste my very own olive oil! Thanks for making that possible!

Mary Lee M.

We've only opened up one bottle so far but we are pleased. I'm a bit of an olive oil snob. Your oil has flavor and smells like fresh grass. I put it on my air popped popcorn with salt. It's delicious! So glad I found you! Can't wait to try the other oils and get the new harvest oils in the future!

Debbie V., Boulder, CO

Everything is so great! Love the tins as much as the bottles and enjoying both right now. Love giving these oils as gifts too!

Laurie S., Sonoma, CA

The olive oils are excellent. My favourites are Tuscan and Arbequina and the fact that they are organic makes them even better. Also the packaging is exceptional.

Joanne H., Red Bluff, CA

I’m very happy with your Arbequina Blend. It’s smooth and fresh. It makes everything taste elegant. I love it. I also love your Minerva olive oil.

Cheri R.

The Strawberry Parfait apples made a lovely, fluffy applesauce in a soft pink color. Not as deep a color as the Pink Pearls, and the flavor is milder than other varieties in the markets here - but very pretty nonetheless... With a wee bit of my "secret ingredient" it tastes great!

Jennie C.

I recently picked up some Gold Ridge Organic Farms strawberry parfait apples from Whole Foods. They are some of the best apples I’ve ever had.

Samantha E.

Excellent packaging and true authentic organic extra virgin olive oil with the bite to the palate that distinguishes it from poor quality and purported EV olive oils. Thanks again expect repeated orders to come!

Ty J., Hemet, CA

LOVE IT!!! I take a shot of olive oil every day. (Along w/all the other stuff we use EVOO for!). Picholine Blend is high in polyphenols, which is why I chose this blend… I'm after the health benefits of higher polyphenols… I love that Gold Ridge is organic, I love all the awards they have, I love that they are a small farm, I love the taste and quality of the olive oil!

Ashley C., Murrieta, CA

I received my shipment in good order. I have opened the Tuscan Blend and was very impressed with its flavor and finish. The others I have not tried at this time. Since I, also, am a very small olive grower and making some organic extra virgin olive oil, I love to try other oils.

Marilyn M., Calistoga, CA

Love love love my order! I was introduced to the goldridge olive oil from My real good greens delivery that I started. I love the olive oil so much that I order a bottle almost every week. I also told a girlfriend about it, she ordered some, and I ordered some for My mom and sister who live in New York. I have never had such amazing olive oil, and absolutely love it! Thanks

Nancy S., San Francisco, CA

Five Stars!!!!  Thank you Andrea and Brooke!  LOVE your product!!!  Hope that Montage Healdsburg can send guests for tasting, special events some day!  Hotel opens November 18!!

Laurie S., San Clemente, CA

I am happy with the Arbequina olive oil.  I had been looking for a long time for an olive oil appropriate for making a vinaigrette that was flavorful without being overpowered by the strong taste of the olive oil.  And now I have found it!  Thank you!

Deborah , Del Mar, CA

We love this oil. I feel better about consuming an oil that is actually good for you as long as I don’t over heat it or use too much of it at once

Irene D., Port Townsend, WA

Amazing!!!

Merhunisa K., Bronx, NY

I love this olive oil.  I had been looking and trying many olive oils to try to find a mild but flavorful oil that would not overwhelm salad dressings and vegetables.  This is absolutely a perfect oil for these purposes.  I now also use it as my overall go to olive oil.  It enhances and does not detract from other flavor profiles.  Just delicious!  I also love the pouring spout that was included in my first order.  I love it so much I even sent this oil to a friend of mine who also loves to cook.

Deborah M., Del Mar, CA

We appreciate the chance to support local artists. 

We’re on a keto diet that requires us to consume a cup of oil a day. Your sampler has made this program tasty! 

It was flawless and the packaging was perfect! 

Excellent! Gave some to my mom, sister, and son/fiancé for Xmas. They loved it! My son and fiancé (in colorado) said it is the best olive oil they have ever had! My mom and sister are repeat gifts. My mom asked for more of the goldridge olive oil for Christmas. Always pleased with goldridge.

Nancy S., San Francisco, CA

I LOVE your olive oil so much. It is smooth and bright and delightful. AND its the only oil I wanted to provision my upcoming sailing adventure with for 6 months!

Thank you.

Aria A., Hallandale Beach, FL

I am very happy with your product. Shipping was fast and quality is excellent!

Danielle L., Sequim, WA

Great arrived before we expected it. Andrea is wonderful, she knew what we wanted with just......it begins with a P

John G., Lake Oswego, WA

I'm only on my first of the trio, Minerva, but I'm already super happy with my order. And, as a longtime connoisseur, you are now one of my favorite olive oils, not kiddin, and will now be in my regular rotation. Thank you for the complimentary pour spout. I never liked their idea as to keep oxygen out. But I love it. Super convenient and makes it easy to pour all over the place.

Homero D., Driftwood, TX

Great service and love the olive oil!!

Deb , Perry, MO