Olive oil made from Calaveras olives has been winning awards and turning heads for years. Three Calaveras olive oil producers – Mangini Ranch, Winter Creek Olive Oil and Olive Crush Farms – have taken home medals from multiple olive oil contests – some of them international and usually dominated by European producers.
Calaveras Olive Oils: Recent Winners
Olives have a long history in Calaveras, with many orchards dating back to the Gold Rush. One of those old orchards, about six acres near Wallace, was slated for removal a few years ago when Kris and Alan Mangini saw an opportunity to buy the land and save the trees. For the past several seasons, the Manginis have been cleaning up the orchard, tilling the soil, and processing the harvested olives at their on-site mill. They have also planted more trees to increase production.
Down the road in Valley Springs is the ranch that Jim and Mary Anne Melson, of Winter Creek Olive Oil, retired to in 2000. In 2003 they planted 250 trees, all Tuscan in variety – 90% Frantoio and 10% Leccino. They had initially sought to plant grapes, but were persuaded to go with olives instead. Ed Rich, of Calaveras Olive Oil, help them decide on which varieties to plant and they also formed a partnership with Mangini Ranch, whose mill the Melsons use to process their fruit.
Our newest producers, Olive Crush Farms, was started by newlyweds Christine and Jeremy who won a bronze State Fair medal for extra virgin olive oil with oil produced from their first crush, Arbequina in 2017. Also located in Valley Springs, their farm is open weekdays, 10 am – 5 pm by appointment.
All three couples have attended the State Fair and other prestigious olive oil contests, offering samples of their products and meeting new people interested in Calaveras County and its olive oils.
Mangini Ranch oil can be found retailing at Gold Country in Jackson, Tangles in Valley Springs and at the San Andreas farmers market on the second Wednesday of the month. Winter Creek, which has two labels – Winter Creek Oil and Ruscello d’Inverno, can be found at Tanner Vineyards tasting room in Murphys and at the Treasure Island Flea Market on the last weekend of the month. For the past three years, the two businesses have also teamed up to offer a special harvest experience to some of their customers who come pick olives, then get to help press them into oil and take home a bottle of the olive oil they helped produce.
To contact Mangini Ranch and inquire about orchard visits during harvest time, contact: Kris Mangini, 209-763-1033 or email: [email protected]
Winter Creek and Jim and Mary Anne Melson can be contacted at: 209-772-2738 or email: [email protected]
Calaveras Olive Oils: More Producers
Copperopolis Olive Oil Company – They grow and bottle four Tuscan varieties available for purchase online and from their store at 621 McCarty Street, Copperopolis, CA 95228. Call 209-785-6868 for more information.
Calaveras Olive Oil Company – 15 European varieties grown locally available for purchase online and from their store located in the old 1890 bank building located at 665 O’Byrnes Ferry Road, Copperopolis, CA 95228. Call 209-785-1000 for more information.
Three Ponds Olive Oil – Producing boutique, estate, extra virgin olive oil from four varieties grown without any pesticides or chemicals utilizing solar power and gravity for drip irrigation. Contact them directly to order using their online contact form or call: 650-814-1230. You can also mail them at P.O. Box 592, Burson, CA 95225.
Rocca Bella Olive Oil – Soon opening a new tasting room for their four varieties of locally grown extra virgin olive oils. Call 209-763-2676 for updates. Currently located at 5476 Highway 12, Wallace, CA 95254.