A Visit to Gold Ridge Organic Farms

November 1, 2021
Farmer Brooke Hazen knows every tree planted on his 88 acres in the rolling hills of Sebastopol. Not in the “Hi! How are you?” kind of way, he jokes. But in the truest sense of nurtured familiarity, having planted each and every one of them with the help of only one assistant.

He started his Gold Ridge Organic Farms in 2001 to create an edible wonderland. He’s more than succeeded, growing 13,000 olive trees of Spanish, Italian and French cultivars; 12,000 apple trees of 75 different varieties, including rare heirlooms; and a smattering of citrus, including Blood Oranges and Mandarin-Kumquats. All are grown organically, too.

You may very well know his apples already from his branded bags of Heirloom Apple Blend that are sold at Northern California Whole Foods. These treasure bags can contain such unusual antique varieties as Pitmaster Pineapple that actually tastes like pineapple, and Strawberry Parfait that — yes — tastes like strawberry. Indeed, Gold Ridge is one of the largest heirloom apple growers in California.

This month, you can get the opportunity to visit this wonderful farm for the first time.

After the pandemic quashed Gold Ridge’s plans to host public events last year, it’s now finally geared up for its first Harvest Open House, Nov. 5 and Nov. 6.

You’ll get a chance to taste four award-winning olive oils, and see the Italian Rapini olive press and mill, which actually acts like a centrifuge to more gently separate the oil from the olives.

This is a free event. Because there is limited parking, advance reservations are required. Masks also are required inside the tasting salon. Register here.

If you can’t make it to that open house, Gold Ridge is also hosting a fun shopping event for the holidays, Nov. 27 and Nov. 28.

You’ll again get a chance to sample the olive oils and view the olive mill. You’ll also get to shop for olive oils, farm-grown citrus, dried apples, and apple syrup, as well as locally made soaps and lotions made with Gold Ridge extra virgin olive oil and fragrant botanicals.

This is also a free event that requires advanced registration due to parking constraints, as well as the wearing of masks indoors. Register here.

When it comes to apples, Gold Ridge grows primarily Fuji and Honeycrisp, which pop with potent sweetness and flavor, owing to the fact that unlike most apples sold these days in supermarkets, these never go into cold storage for longer preservation. Instead, Hazen picks them and sends them to stores immediately.

The farm’s cool coastal climate also benefits the olives. They ripen so slowly that he’s one of the last olive oil producers to press each season, waiting until mid-November to start.

That extended time gives the olives more time to develop nuanced flavors. In fact, at a media event last week, the extra virgin oils I sampled were so robust that it was hard to believe they had been pressed a year ago.

The Minerva Blend boasted the pepperiness of arugula and white pepper with a hint of green tea. The Picholine Blend had a super spicy kick like dandelion greens, plus a long finish. And the Mandarin-Kumquat Organic Olive Oil possessed a beautiful floral-orange perfume to it, as well as an intense rounded citrus taste with touch of bitter pith and spicy white pepper.

Some olive oil producers pick their olives on the green side to create an oil with high levels of polyphenols, naturally occurring antioxidants, But Hazen can wait to press until his olives are riper, sporting a blush 3/4 of the way around, and still end up with oils high in polyphenols and more pronounced fruitiness.

In addition to pressing his own estate olives, Hazen also custom mills for 150 olive oil clients, including Forestville’s Olive Queen, and on the day I visited, for winemaker Stephen Singer, the ex-husband of Chez Panisse’s Alice Waters.

If you’re looking for a change of pace from the usual wine-tasting, trek on over to Gold Ridge to savor a delicious time of a different sort.

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

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