Wine Down Eugene May 7-13
I mentioned briefly in last week’s Wine Down Eugene that I had recently attended the first ever Pacific Northwest Cool Climate Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) Conference. Although I’ll be going into great detail about all that I learned and experienced during the conference on my award-winning website, WineJulia.com, I thought a proper briefing of what took place at this unique conference should be shared with the many readers of Eugene Daily News and Wine Down Eugene. Oregon is an amazing state, and I’m continuously marveled by what surrounds me in this beautiful and bountiful place I love to call home.
Taking place over the course of two days, Saturday and Sunday, April 26 and 27, at the very appropriate and absolute perfect location for the conference, Red Ridge Farm’s Oregon Olive Mill, an eclectic mix of people (farmers, foodies, consumers and marketing gurus) gathered to learn and discover what it takes to cultivate olives in the cool climate region of the Pacific Northwest. Capturing the attention of the extra virgin olive oil enthusiasts through a farm-to-table approach, industry leaders gathered to share their knowledge over the course of two days.
Saturday’s program focused on the agricultural and technical side of cool climate olive agronomy and olive grove management, including a pruning demo done on site in the grove at Red Ridge Farms, and was geared towards those interested or already vetted in cultivating cool-climate olives.
Sunday’s activities were geared towards consumers and trade folk, focusing on creating a well thought out olive oil culture for the Pacific Northwest. Owner of Oregon Olive Mill, which is part of Red Ridge Farms and Durant Vineyards, Paul Durant opened the discussion with his olive visions of exploration, discovery and even failures. His passion for the importance of olive oil’s history shone while he talked about creating a culture through varietal selection, agronomy, milling, packaging, marketing and educating the consumer.
I didn’t attend the first day’s program because I’m not farming olives and have no immediate plans to do so. But as an avid lover of the complexities found in different types of extra virgin olive oils, I knew the focus of day two was going to be the one for me.
We learned about the varietals that work well in our cooler climate; as well as, the impacts of freeze on the trees. I was amazed to discover that olive trees are evergreens, and that site selection and soil types are oh so important (much like wine grape growing). Propagation of olives trees has been going on for 6,000 years, and it’s immersed in rich symbology, leading it to be, “historically very significant.” [Paul Durant]
Over the course of several hours. we became well educated and learned a great deal about how to create an olive oil culture in the Pacific Northwest, starting by learning about the history of EVOO – the panel of experts clearly impressed every person in the room. The day ended with a fabulous wine tasting in the Durant Vineyards tasting room with appetizers prepared by one of Oregon’s most famous and beloved chefs (and a personal favorite of mine), Vitaly Paley – who also prepared an EVOO-centric dinner that absolutely deserves an article of its very own.
Over the next few weeks, look for articles on WineJulia.com that will focus on this super significant and absolutely stellar event that I had the privilege of attending – you won’t want to miss them! And although I didn’t mention much about the Durant Vineyards wines in this piece, expect a plethora of information on them on WineJulia – they were incredibly delicious.