Recently, I had a chance to sample two new releases [from Gold Ridge Organic Farms in Sebastopol]: Apple Cider Balsamic and Apple Cider Vinegar.
One taste of the Gold Ridge Apple Cider Balsamic will instantly make you go “Wow!”
The Gold Ridge Apple Cider Vinegar has the concentrated taste of tart crisp apples. That vibrant apple taste really comes through in this small-batch product in a way that it doesn’t in most run-of-the-mill apple cider vinegars.
Hazen, the owner of Gold Ridge Organic Farms, an 88-acre orchard and olive grove in Sonoma County, cultivated [a] new apple, grafting the mutation (or “sport,” in horticultural parlance) onto rootstock and naming it “Sea Breeze.” The name is a paean to the force that, before the rise of the wine grape, once made Sonoma famous as an apple-growing mecca. “The Pacific Ocean provides the perfect cooling climate for apple trees to thrive and fully express their nuances and variations,” Hazen says. “I’m not kidding when I say I’ve met people that were brought to tears by eating the Sea Breeze.”
There are over 7,500 apple varieties around the world (and counting), each with its own unique history. There are heirloom apples that have withstood the test of time, and new types of apples coming into being every year…. Behind every apple on this list is a dedicated farmer, producer, or historian that cares about the lineage and the preservation of these historic gems […] Farmer Brooke Hazen has been a steward of heirloom and modern apples alike for decades.
A Is for Apple
Farmer Brooke Hazen has been so bitten by the pleasures of heirloom apples that he’s planted over 70 varieties at his Gold Ridge Organic Farms. At the farm’s Heirloom Apple Celebration on September 16, you’ll get to taste quite a few of those apples as well as the farm’s organic extra virgin olive oils and many other locally made treats... Out on the patio, surrounded by old olive trees, we easily imagined we were in Tuscany as we took in 360° views of the orchards and West Sonoma County landscape while tasting the olive oils with dried apples, local cheeses, and the farm’s splendid apple syrup.
Gold Ridge will hold its second Annual Heirloom Apple Celebration later this month, and Brooke Hazen couldn’t be happier about opening his farm to celebrate the season.
Brooke Hazen doesn’t immediately give off farmer vibes.
Sure, he has the deep tan and lined face typical of someone who has worked for years outside in the sun and wind, but his pristine pink T-shirt and two pink jeweled stud earrings in his left ear belie that this is a man who lives to tend the soil and trees at Gold Ridge Organic Farms, his 88-acre apple and olive farm in Sebastopol.
“I love the color pink. I think it brings joy and beauty,” Hazen said. “Pink is really a symbol of the apple blossom, a huge part of what we grow here. So, the power of Gold Ridge is pink power.”
But brown is the color most people might associate with Gold Ridge. That’s the color of the paper bags filled with Hazen’s apples that have been sold for years at 47 Whole Foods Markets all over Northern California...
A perfect quick, easy weeknight dinner for pasta lovers. This recipe for Spaghetti Aglio e Olio is a beloved classic features bold flavors, but requires minimal effort. Garlic and Gold Ridge Organic Farms Extra Virgin Olive Oil as the star ingredients. The addition of Gold Ridge Organic Farms Tuscan Blend EVOO, plus chili flakes and parsley, offers rich, fruity undertones and robust, nuanced flavors.
Host Clark Wolf talks with Farmer-Founder Brooke Hazen of Gold Ridge Organic Farms about olive oil, apples, farming in Sonoma County and much more!
Shop Sonoma County with Jill Martin: Finds from local businesses and familiar faves
Located on 88 acres within Sonoma County, Gold Ridge Organic Farms grows olives, heirloom apples, citrus fruits and lavender. According to the business, they specialize in making certified organic olive oil, and you can even visit the grounds and book an olive oil tasting experience.
You'll feel like a top chef cooking with this San Franciscan "Chef Favorite" Tuscan Blend of extra virgin organic olive oil. Harvested in 2022, Gold Ridge Organic Farms says you'll taste hints of green apples, pine nuts and almonds.
Working together as a team to reach success is a priceless experience in life.
The northern California producer earned the industry's most coveted quality awards for its Tuscan Blend, Minerva Blend, Arbequina Blend and Picholine Blend, all organic medium blends.
Slow Food in Sonoma County, a joint project of two local Slow Food chapters, Sonoma County North and Russian River, will honor eight Sonoma County restaurants, farms, ranches and producers at its annual awards ceremony, including two from the Valley. This international program recognizes food-related businesses that excel in sourcing, environmental impact, cultural connection, community involvement, staff support and business values.
Give your heart health a boost with fresh local 2022 harvest Olio Nuovo (new olive harvest.)
Discover new pairings with our citrus oils. Taste a custom dessert pairing from local pastry chef Jenny Malicki of Buttercup Baking with our Honeycrisp-Fuji Apple Cider Syrup.
"Enjoy rose-infused hot apple-pear cider shrub with Little Apple Treats' Modern Mulling Spices.
How much is there to love about Sonoma County? Gold Ridge Organic Farms will help count the ways from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, with tastes of their new harvest of olive oils and treats from Buttercup Baking to start. Baked treats from pasty chef Jenny Malicki will be paired with Gold Ridge’s Honeycrisp-Fuji apple cider syrup. Wash it down with hot apple-pear cider infused with Little Apple Treats’ mulling spices. Tickets are $35 and available at goldridgeorganicfarms.com/events. 3387 Canfield Road.
Sure, Sonoma is best known for its world-class wines, but this vast county is home to all sorts of farms and ranches. There’s even a cheese trail map.
While rolling through the region, [food writer Leslie Kelly] recently stopped at Gold Ridge Organic Farms for an olive oil tasting. That’s right. This beautiful property is home to acres of olive trees, as well as apple orchards. Quite an intriguing combo, but one that founder Brooke Hazen was sure would work when he settled in the area in 2001.
By Ruth Reichl
What an honor to see Gold Ridge Organic Farms Tuscan Blend Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Olio Nuovo featured in the La Briffe holiday gift guide by the one and only Ruth Reichl herself.
"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 Winning Food Writer & Chef
We are featured in Sonoma magazine Delicious Holiday Gifts Made in Sonoma! This season, spread goodwill—to a neighbor or friend, a teacher or colleague—as you support our region’s artisan food businesses.
We recently spent a day visiting Gold Ridge Organic Farms, where farmer Brook Hazan grows apples, citrus, and olives on 88 idyllic acres near Sebastopol. It’s a good place to experience an expert, multi-faceted olive oil tasting right beside some gorgeous old olive trees like those in our Olive Oil Heaven gallery of orchards. On the Gold Ridge patio, you’ll also meet a unique citrus hybrid called the mandarin kumquat. The farm co-presses those fruits with olives in its mill, and the delicious oil can add its beautiful spark to salads or to this Heirloom Apple Almond Olive Oil Cake recipe.
California Live’s Malou Nubla heads to Sebastopol to visit Gold Ridge Organic Farms, a farm made up of 16 acres of heirloom apples and other fruit. She gets to the core of apple farming! Owner, Brook Hazen shares some of the health benefits of eating an apple a day.
During the fall and winter olive harvest season, fresh olive oils flow from the mills in brilliant, luxuriously green torrents. This is the time to celebrate the drought-tolerant olive tree in California and experience the extraordinary flavors of olio nuovo and new-harvest extra virgin olive oil when it is newly milled […] Gold Ridge Organic Farms 88-acre Sonoma County organic farm is open for visitors year-round, but fall and winter are ideal seasons to visit, since you’ll have the opportunity to taste the farms’ award-winning estate-grown olive oils newly milled on-site within hours of harvest, which gives them the highest medicinal quality, maximum freshness, and best flavors.
Farmer Brooke Hazen took a chance in the rolling hills of Sebastopol, and it paid off deliciously.
“It was a total risk,” says Brooke Hazen. In 2000, only a handful of years after graduating from college, the organic farmer began transforming an 88-acre cattle ranch in Sebastopol into Gold Ridge Organic Farms.
“In the beginning, I didn’t even know if olives would do well here,” he says.
The risk paid off. Today, 13,000 olive trees—21 varieties spread across some 70 acres—thrive in the beautiful stretch of west Sonoma County. All of Gold Ridge Organic Farms’s olive oils are milled on-site within hours of harvest (typically mid-November through mid-December) for maximum freshness, flavor, and medicinal quality. High in antioxidants, the farm’s
award-winning lineup ranges from estate-grown extra virgin organic olive oils to olive oils co-milled with Meyer lemon and mandarin-kumquat fruit grown on the property.
Farming plays a large role in Hazen‘s success, but he is quick to credit the land’s proximity to the Pacific Ocean. The coastal fog and cooler temperatures that produce ideal growing conditions for the region’s renowned pinot noir wine grapes also create the perfect environment for cultivating olives.
“The flavors, the textures, and the colors—all those are slowly allowed to develop over a long period of time,” says Hazen.
But it’s not just about olives. Hazen also tends to more than 12,000 apple trees, growing about 75 heirloom varieties, such as Hoople’s Antique Gold and Red Gravenstein, along with well-known favorites including Honeycrisp and Fuji. Apple harvest typically kicks off in late July and runs well into fall.
“I do tree-ripe harvest, which is rare commercially,” says Hazen. “I wait until it’s just peak- ready, and we get it straight to market right away.”
Then there’s the olive oil soap and apple cider syrup, and don’t forget the dark chocolate bar with Meyer lemon olive oil made in collaboration with nearby Volo Chocolate. In just two decades, Hazen’s small organic farm has blossomed into a foodie paradise.
Gold Ridge Organic Farms offers private olive oil tastings and farm tours by appointment throughout the year, and beginning in August, the farm will host heirloom apple tastings at its Apple Barn. goldridgeorganicfarms.com.
Listen to Goldridge Organic Farms' owner Brooke Hazen interview on KRSH radio's Tawny Tesconi’s From Farm To Table.
Nearly a dozen small producers in Sonoma County mill olives onsite within hours of harvest into olio nuovo, or new oil, and backyard growers bring their olive harvest to custom mills at neighboring farms. The resulting oils are fresh, much higher in antioxidants, and deliver wildly complex flavors on the palate. Gold Ridge Organic Farms has 70 acres of olive trees in the rolling hills of Sebastopol and is the newest establishment to open their Tasting Salon to the public. A tour of the property is gifted with a 360 view of West Sonoma County and an educational guided tasting of their medicinal quality oils.
It’s the season for olio nuovo, the fresh-pressed olive oil that marks the start of the holiday season.
Olive oil is never better, never more compelling, than it is at the moment it first streams into the world, straight from the press. It is the purest expression of the olive, an elixir that delights with field-fresh flavors and a texture best described as both lean and rich.
This is olio nuovo, the new oil.
Olio nuovo is a treasure of early winter in Sonoma. It cannot be separated from its season and cannot be preserved, as its bold flavors begin to fade not long after pressing. The decline is subtle at first, but within a month or two, the new oil loses its unique spark and begins to mellow. By early spring, it will be a memory until the next vintage.
“When olive oil comes out of the funnel during pressing, there is always a feeling of renewal and exuberance. The vibrant green and gold hues, the fresh aromas, and the healthy vegetative and fruity flavors are intoxicating, full of the strength and health of the trees, only an hour removed,” says Brooke Hazen, who oversees 70 acres of olive trees at his Gold Ridge Organic Farms in the rolling hills southeast of Sebastopol.
Typically, quality olive oil rests in bulk for a few months after being pressed, a process that allows it to settle and become shelf-stable. Olio nuovo, in contrast, is bottled and released straight from the press, skipping the step during which the oil rests, allowing fresh, peppery, straight-from-the-tree flavors to shine. Until quite recently, only a handful of local growers, including Healdsburg’s DaVero and Petaluma’s McEvoy Ranch, celebrated a separate release of the new oil before the more widely available extra virgin olive oil came to market.
Sonoma County’s olive harvest begins around the time the grape harvest concludes, typically in late October or early November, and continues for several weeks. By the winter holidays, prized bottles of olio nuovo are available locally, many of them from small-scale, family-owned farms and olive mills. These days, there’s recognition that Sonoma County-grown olio nuovo holds its own alongside prized oils from Tuscany such as Ardoino, a favorite of olive oil pioneer Ridgely Evers at DaVero, and Poggio Lamentano, the favorite of renowned food writer M. F. K. Fisher.
“There is al ways a feeling of renewal and exuberance. The vibrant green and gold hues, the fresh aromas…full of the strength and health of the trees, only an hour removed.” ~ Brooke Hazen
Producer Stephen Singer of Baker Lane Vineyards likens olio nuovo to the elusive white truffle, another early-winter treasure. “The early vivid expression of olive oil doesn’t last long, nor does the flavor of the truffle,” he says. “Both are transitory, deeply seasonal, momentary, and ephemeral.” Singer, the former wine director at Chez Panisse in Berkeley, used to be in the business of importing premium olive oil from Tuscany. Now, settled in the hills outside Sebastopol, he makes wine and produces estate olive oil.
Growers say that to understand olio nuovo, it is essential to understand olive oil itself. The characteristic flavors of an olive’s oil are determined almost entirely by which type of olive tree the olive grows upon (over 2,000 types of trees exist). The trees must be properly tended and pruned, and farmers must choose the right moment to pick. The olives must be harvested gently, without stems and leaves, then transported as quickly as possible to the mill, before they begin to ferment. It is the job of the miller to press the oil out of the olive as gently as possible. Nearly all premium oils are made with olives processed and pressed within 24 hours of being harvested.
The best olive oils are made with a mix of green fruit and ripe fruit. Green fruit has the bitterness and peppery qualities considered essential; when olives ripen to purple-black, as they all eventually do, their oil takes on more buttery characteristics. The mix of both green and purple olives at different stages of ripeness creates the complexity of flavor that makes olive oil lovers wax poetic.
Six local mills serve the olive growers of Sonoma County. Recently, these mills have also become home to a new seasonal tradition: the community milling day. At one of these events, typically held in November or early December, anyone with an olive tree or two can be part of the magic of olio nuovo. Small-scale growers and backyard hobbyists bring their freshly-picked fruit—in buckets, bags, and bins—to the mill on the day of the press. After checking the olives for pests and for ripeness, the miller adds the fruit to the press to become part of a community blend. This is grassroots local food production at its best: Each grower gets back containers of the fresh-pressed oil in proportion to what they contributed. The more olives you bring, the more oil you receive.
Standing in the orchard, watching as olives are gently tugged from their slender stems, it all comes full circle—the care put into tending the trees, the flurry of harvest day, the quick rush to the press. After an hour or two of picking, you can smell on your hands the subtle aroma of the olive and the oil within— all peppery and grassy, the sunlight and rain together. “Olive oil is priceless,” says Ridgely Evers. “And it is sacred.”
Tasting Sonoma’s Olio Nuovo
There are nearly a dozen commercial olio nuovo producers in Sonoma County, plus hundreds of backyard growers who either do a custom milling for oil to share with friends and neighbors, or who bring their olives to community milling events.
Baker Lane Vineyards: Stephen Singer’s 2021 Occidental Blend is not labeled “olio nuovo,” but is available soon enough after pressing that it is a de facto nuovo, with vivid flavors of artichoke, new mown hay, and green apple. Online sales only. bakerlanevineyards.com
DaVero Farms & Winery: The benchmark estate olio nuovo is sassy and elegant, with complex bitter and pepper flavors—the signature liquid nirvana. It is available by appointment at the tasting room and online, from Thanksgiving through the end of the year. 766 Westside Rd., Healdsburg. 707431-8000, davero.com
Dry Creek Olive Company: A blend of olives from 100-year-old trees and newly-planted cultivars goes into a bright, herbaceous olio nuovo, available shortly after pressing and prior to the release of estate’s signature flavored olive oils. 7878 Dry Creek Rd., Geyserville. 707-431-7200, trattorefarms.com
Eyrie Olive Oil: This delicious Tuscan-style olio nuovo is available on Saturdays at the Santa Rosa Original Certified Farmers Market, 50 Mark West Springs Rd., and at Lazzini’s Market, 3449 Bennett Valley Rd., Santa Rosa. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for information.
Figone Olive Oil Company: The group releases an olio nuovo blend of Spanish and Italian varieties. 483 First St. West, Sonoma. 707-282-9092, figoneoliveoil.com
Gold Ridge Organic Farms: Brooke Hazen offers four olio nuovos, each made from a different variety of olive, including Picholine, Minerva, Tuscan, and Arbequina. The varieties ripen in succession, not simultaneously, and all are picked a bit later in the season, producing oils with a voluptuous buttery texture. The olio nuovos are released in late December and available through February. 3387 Canfield Rd., Sebastopol. 707-8233110, goldridgeorganicfarms.com
McEvoy Ranch: This olio nuovo evokes the subtle flavors of winter greens – think cardoons, chicories, and dandelions – with a trail of peppery heat, a signature quality of the estate’s seven Tuscan cultivars. Available at the ranch store and online. 5935 Red Hill Rd., Petaluma. 707-7782307, mcevoyranch.com
Monte-Bellaria di California: Proprietor Bill MacElroy typically harvests his olives on the last Sunday of October. His olive oil is available within about 24 hours of pressing, and though it is not labeled as olio nuovo, that’s what it is. 3518 Bloomfield Rd., Sebastopol. 707829-2645, monte-bellaria.com
Olivino: Their olio nuovo is a blend of five Tuscan cultivars from a 2,500-tree orchard that straddles the border of Sonoma and Mendocino counties. It shows classic flavors of fresh grass, fruit, nuts, and pepper. It is released near Christmas and available until Easter. 14160 Mountain Home Rd., Hopland. 707744-1114, olivino.com
Preston Farm & Winery: Chaste Maiden Early Release Organic Olive Oil is a blend of ten Italian and Spanish cultivars. Even in its youth, it is a delicate oil, with a modicum of the peppery heat that defines many other oils. As it ages, the oil softens even more, and develops buttery characteristics, making it ideal for anyone who balks at “two cough” olive oils, as some people call robust olio nuovos. 9282 West Dry Creek Rd., Healdsburg, 707-433-3372, prestonfarmandwinery.com
The Olive Press: Their olio nuovo is made from the Spanish cultivar Arbequina, which has suggestions of newly-mown grass, artichoke, apple, and banana. 24724 Arnold Dr., Sonoma, 800-9654839, theolivepress.com
Community Milling Days
Community milling days are a special way to participate in the feel and flavors of olive oil production. Some mills require a minimum quantity, while others will take even just a hatful of olives. The mills will generally ask for a specific mix of ripeness in the olives and that participants pick their olives within 24 hours of the event.
They’ll also inspect the olives for signs of damage from the olive fruit fly. For additional information and requirements, please contact each mill directly.
Dry Creek Olive Company, Geyserville: Oct. 31, Nov. 21, Dec. 5. 5 pound minimum, $1 per pound. 707-431-7200, trattorefarms.com
Figone’s Olive Oil Co.: Saturdays and Sundays, Oct. 9-Dec. 12. 5 pound minimum, $1.12 per pound. 707-244-9148, figoneoliveoil.com
McEvoy Ranch, Petaluma: Nov. 14; register by Nov. 10. $1 per pound. 707-778-2307, mcevoyranch.com
Olivino, Hopland: Call for information. 707-744-1114, olivino.com
The Olive Press, Sonoma: Nov. 7 and Nov. 21. 800-965-4839, theolivepress.com
In Wine Country, the grape harvest ended in October, but another star of the table is waiting in the wings for its golden moment: the Italian, French and Spanish varieties of olives that will be harvested beginning this month, when the small green fruits begin to ripen and turn purple.
At Gold Ridge Organic Farms, founded in 2001 by farmer Brooke Hazen in the western hills above Sebastopol, the coastal fog and sun that slowly ripens the region’s chardonnay and pinot noir grapes also create the ideal growing conditions for 88 acres of organically farmed olives, apples, citrus and herbs.
Hazen, who has blanketed 70 acres of the estate with 13,000 olive trees, started building his own olive mill 10 years ago, featuring a state-of-the-art Rapanelli olive press from Italy, so he could have more control over the quality of his olive oil. The mill also helps support the farm by providing milling services for about 150 clients all over California, from the flatlands of the Central Valley to the hillsides of the North Bay.
“Pressing olives is a romantic thing,” Haven said. “With the amount of olives I have, it would be really expensive otherwise. … And our customers can bring from 50 pounds up to 50 tons to be custom milled.”
Like other olive oil producers in the North Bay, Hazen is gearing up for mid-November harvest of his own olive trees, which include Spanish varieties like Arbequina, Picual and Manzanilla as well as French varieties like Picholine and Italian varieties such as Frantoio, Leccino and Minerva.
“I look at when the first killing frosts are coming, generally around Christmas, so I usually start picking in mid-November,” he said. “We finish the olive harvest in four weeks, by mid-December.”
All the olives are milled on-site within hours of harvest for peak freshness and flavor, including healthy, antioxidant boosting polyphenols concentrated in the bitter flesh of the fruit.
His organic line of olive oils have already won gold and silver awards from the New York International Olive Oil Competition as well as from the California Olive Oil Council, a nonprofit trade group that supports certified extra-virgin olive oil standards.
Hazen credits the climate of Sonoma County for helping nurture the complex flavors in olive oils grown and made here in the cool coastal hills.
“People wonder why olive oils vary so much,” he said. “Yes, farming is involved, but climate is the biggest factor. … The oil here is very robust. The reason is the cool fog we get here in NorCal. The flavors and colors have a longer time to develop nuances and do not get cooked out.”
When he first started planting olives back in 2000, Hazen sourced his Italian olive varieties from McEvoy Ranch in Petaluma, one of the North Bay’s revered pioneers of high-end Italian-style olive oil production.
“But I also have 21 varieties,” Hazen said. “I wanted to diversify with the French and Spanish blends.”
Gold Ridge Organic Farms grows and mills four of its own olive oil blends: the Tuscan, Picholine, Arbequina and Minerva blends, each a mixture of four to six varieties of olives.
In the kitchen, the Arbequina blend is mild and perfect for salad dressings and marinades. The Tuscan blend, a favorite among chefs, is ideal for cooking. Minerva, another Italian blend, starts out robust and pungent, with the highest polyphenol count, but it mellows over time. Foodies love it for its buttery mouthfeel. The Picholine blend made from French varieties is delicious right out of the bottle.
“My favorite Picholine is when it’s new,” Hazen said. “It’s rare to find.”
Recently, Hazen started milling his olives together with some of the citrus he grows at the farm, a method that originated in Abruzzo region of Italy that is known as Agrumato. They started with a refreshing Meyer Lemon Agrumato and a Mandarin-Kumquat Agrumato.
“This is the first year making them,” Hazen said. “It’s made with a pure process — pure fruit, the peel and the juice.”
For the past few years, Gold Ridge also has been diversifying with a line of value-added products made from the organic apples, olive oil and herbs grown at the farm.
Director of Business Operations Andrea Lederle joined the sales and marketing team a few years ago to help raise the profile of the farm, then Naomi Ansbergs joined to head up sales and marketing.
The farm, which also grows 12,000 apple trees on 15 acres, is producing a Gravenstein Apple Syrup in collaboration with well-known preservationist Merrilee Olson of Preserve Farm Kitchens in Petaluma. The syrup is expected to be ready in time for the holiday season.
Gold Ridge Organic Farms earned three Gold Awards and a Silver Award at the 2021 NYIOOC. The owner said organic production was the key to their success.
Gold Ridge Organic Farms is among the California producers leading the way in sustainable and organic olive oil production methods, despite the dominance of imports in the North American market.
At the 2021 NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition, the Northern California producer earned three Gold Awards and a Silver Award for all four of its entries.I was inspired by a great love affair with the grace and elegance of the olive tree. I believe it is the most beautiful of all crops to grow.- Brooke Hazen, owner, Gold Ridge Organic Farms
“It felt truly amazing [to receive these awards],” owner Brooke Hazen told Olive Oil Times. “We are so honored and grateful to receive such special appreciation for all of the hard work, time, dedication and determination that went into producing such exceptional olive oils.”
“Our harvest was excellent last year,” he added. “I was able to obtain 4,500 gallons for my four signature blends from my groves in Sebastopol.”
For Hazen, these awards further validate the authenticity of his brand and the hard work it takes to achieve a quality standard that is not easy to imitate.
Gold Ridge Organic Farms is located in northern California’s West Sonoma County. Sitting approximately 80 kilometers north of San Francisco, the city of Sebastopol is a near-perfect region for olive cultivation due to the optimal soil and ideal climate.
“Our farm sits 10 miles (16 kilometers) inland from the beautiful Sonoma Coast and the Pacific Ocean,” Hazen said. “The proximity to the ocean influences our climate and our soils and makes our oils unique and lively. Our growing season is long and cool, which contributes to the high polyphenol levels in our oils.”
Growing olives organically is a crucial component of Hazen’s vision. He believes that organic cultivation yields olives that are both healthier and more flavorful. He added that his organic farming practices help create olive oils rich in flavor, taste and antioxidants.
“I was inspired by a great love affair with the grace and elegance of the olive tree. I believe it is the most beautiful of all crops to grow,” Hazen said. “It started with planting and growing olive trees and naturally expanded into pressing the olives into olive oil.”
“Olives are planted once in their lifetime,” he added. “They are known as the ‘Grandparent Tree’ because they live for many generations… The trees can live for millennia.”
In the cool coastal environment of Sebastopol, Hazen usually begins harvesting his olives in mid-November and continues until Christmas.
However, even before the harvest begins, Hazen spends plenty of time among his trees. Ensuring they receive plenty of water, nutrients and pruning improves the quality of the fruit.
After harvesting, the olives are processed at an organic mill, which was built in 2001. Hazen installed an Italian Rapanelli press, which processes the olives within a few hours after harvesting.
Hazen and his team then craft their four carefully selected blends of Italian, French and Spanish varietals, of which the producers take great pride.
“Our four olive oil blends are also unique,” he said. Gold Ridge Organic Farms earned two Gold Awards for olive oils blended from Italian varieties.
The Tuscan Blend is crafted from mostly Frantoio and Leccino olives, with a small amount of Maurino and Pendolino cultivars as well. Meanwhile, the Minerva Blend is made from Minerva, Frantoio and Maurino olives with a touch of Cerasoula and Ladoelia.
Hazen and his team also earned a Gold Award for a medium Piccholine blend, which contains Aglandau, Bouteillian, Solonenque, Grossane and Cayon olives. The producers won a Silver Award for a medium Arbequina blend, comprising Empeltre, Leccin de Seville, Hojiblanca, Picual and Manzanilla olives.
Certification is an important part of this process, and all of the company’s olive oils are certified organic by California Certified Organic Farmers and extra virgin by the California Olive Oil Council.
Hazen said his products stand apart from competitors as a result of a methodical production process, uniquely crafted blends and quality certifications.
Despite all the work that Hazen and his team put into each harvest, the producer sees the California olive oil sector as being prone to market trends and consumer behavior like any other industry.
According to Hazen, the availability of cheap and low-quality imported olive oils is the biggest challenge faced by the industry.
“Cheap imported oils have flooded the market, driven down prices and confused the consumers,” he said. “Most consumers have no idea what healthy fresh olive oil actually should taste and look like.”
“The Californian olive oil industry has been making attempts to change this through legal channels and lobbying,” he added.
However, Hazen said his awards from the NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition go a long way in demonstrating to consumers what differentiates high-quality extra virgin olive oil from the rest of the pack.
“Our team is grateful for the recognition of quality,” Hazen concluded. “Farming is a difficult journey with many long days invested into raising the fruit. So, the acknowledgment feels good.”
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! ThanksNancy 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 onceIrene 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!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 PJohn 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