In the waning days of another Oregon wine grape season, vineyards show off colorful leafy leftovers that light up the hills near Dundee in Yamhill County. But just across the way, at Red Ridge Farms near Dayton – there’s another harvest that is just hitting its stride.
If beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, Oregon’s latest olive crop is downright gorgeous to orchard owner Ken Durant and his son Paul Durant, who told me that there is special beauty in an olive tree.
The bold entrepreneurs have planted 13,000 olive trees across 15 Oregon acres with varieties that sport exotic names like “Arbequina,” “Arbosana” and “Koroneiki.”
According to Paul Durant, Oregon Olive Mill manager, the family hopes to compliment the Oregon wine grape landscape with something new. Paul added that the oil type olives require fewer chemicals than wine grapes, they are bird proof and the fruit is easily harvested.
However, there is one worry on everyone’s mind: Oregon’s cold winter weather – where the snow can pile high, last for weeks and take a toll on young fragile olive trees.
Last year, the Oregon Olive Mill bottled 350 gallons of extra-virgin olive oil and they hope to grow even bigger this year. The olive oil market is vast and offers plenty of room to grow. America’s love affair with olive oil is pegged at 70 million gallons a year.
The Oregon Olive Mill at Red Ridge Farms includes fine wines that are produced from the Durant Vineyards and offers olive oil tasting and more – you can spend the night in a fully furnished apartment that offers a stunning view to the surrounding hills.
Plus, the property is open to exploration so you can wander and watch and learn about a new enterprise that’s taking root in Oregon. There are several exciting fall events including the Olio Nuova Festa (New Olive Oil Celebration) that are worth your time to visit.