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Olive oil is the gourmet eleventh-hour gift that'll get taste buds rejoicing

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Olive oil may seem like an unusual holiday gift, but in California's Mediterranean climate, it's right at home. New Times curated a sample of liquid gold gifting options from around San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties. Our list is in no way exhaustive but can point you in the right direction for the slickest last-minute present.

We Olive San Luis Obispo

FESTIVE FANCY We Olive SLO's olive oil collection can only be browsed in-store, making it a truly local staple. - PHOTOS BY BULBUL RAJAGOPAL
  • Photos By Bulbul Rajagopal
  • FESTIVE FANCY We Olive SLO's olive oil collection can only be browsed in-store, making it a truly local staple.

Run by owner Ray Russell on Higuera Street, the 14-year-old We Olive SLO is a downtown staple offering a buttery variety of flavored and classic olive oils. Fan favorites include the organic Meyer lemon olive oil from the San Joaquin Valley, the fresh garlic olive oil from Sutter, and a fruity Arbequina oil from Capay Valley. Their balsamic vinegar straight from Italy seals the deal.

Customers can purchase an olive oil and balsamic vinegar combination gift set as well as tapenades, jams, spices, and kitchenware. But the store's refillable bottle policy for a lower price is a crowd pleaser, saving olive oil aficionados roughly $4 to $6 depending on the size of the container.

We Olive SLO is a true local stop, according to Russell, because the only way to get your hands on their bottles is by picking up the phone or by strolling right into the shop.

958 Higuera St., SLO; (805) 595-1376; rrussell@weolive.com.

Pasolivo

ROOM FOR MORE The tasting room and mill at the Pasolivo ranch. - PHOTO COURTESY OF PASOLIVO
  • Photo Courtesy Of Pasolivo
  • ROOM FOR MORE The tasting room and mill at the Pasolivo ranch.

Located in the heart of Paso Robles wine country, Pasolivo has "something for everybody," said General Manager Marisa Bloch. Their extra virgin olive oil tasting experience will bring interested customers to 140 acres of rolling hills once owned by Hollywood director King Vidor. But Pasolivo's slew of gift sets ranging from $25 to $200 and nationwide shipping (even to Canada) ensures that no one feels left out.

Bloch said that their most popular gift set is called the Entertainer, which is brimming with olive oils, vinegars, mustards, and tapenades.

"It's a good variety for the ultimate foodie," she said.

The gift sets are also customizable, and Pasolivo is currently offering a holiday promotion until Dec. 14 where customers can get free products after spending a certain amount.

8530 Vineyard Drive and 1229 Park St., Paso Robles; (805) 227-0186; pasolivo.com.

Santa Maria Olive Co.

Family run on a 6 1/2 acre olive ranch in Santa Barbara County, the Santa Maria Olive Co. is a cornucopia of Arbequina, Picudo, Koroneiki, Arbosana, Mission, and Manzanillo olives, which get blended to create premium extra virgin olive oils.

The company promotes buying its oil online in order to ensure peak quality. Santa Maria Olive Co. has a meticulous production process. Water from the Clayton Ranch's sulfur spring well nourishes the olives. Each bottle is maintained and stored at 64 degrees Fahrenheit and kept away from direct sunlight. These exacting standards elevate their liquid gold to a gourmet-level gift.

400 E. Orange St., Santa Maria; (805) 896-1575; santamariaoliveco.com.

Rancho Olivos

Owned and run by rancher couple Shannon Casey and John Copeland, Rancho Olivos has been producing fresh estate artisan extra virgin olive oil out of the Santa Ynez Valley for more than a decade.

"Rancho Olivos is the only olive oil producer in the valley that offers tastings on the farm next to our orchards of beautiful olive trees," according to its website.

They have a variety of holiday gift sets, too. The Dipping Gift Box lets olive oil lovers mix and match any two bottles of Rancho Olivos oils and vinegars. If you still can't make up your mind, the Ultimate Sampler Box—a collection of all 12 oils and vinegars in 60 ml bottles—can save the day. Their other gift sets also include accessories like cloth gift bags.

While the Santa Ynez location is the company's primary home, Rancho Olivos opened a second location in Morro Bay in 2019.

2390 N. Refugio Road, Santa Ynez; 699 Embarcadero, No. 4, Morro Bay; (805) 686-9653; ranchoolivos.com.

Olea Farm

Olea Farm claims to bring European quality to California's olive oil industry. Tucked just outside Templeton, the farm specializes in Arbequina olive oil.

"The flavor of the Arbequina is like putting 'spring into a bottle,' which is why so many restaurant chefs from the area insist on using it to highlight their Central Coast cuisine," according Olea Farm's website.

Their gift boxes for all occasions include a five-set olive oil collection, a premium two-bottle selection, and an olive oil and balsamic vinegar quintet. Olea Farm also offers flat-rate shipping of $12, no matter how many gift boxes ordered.

2985 Templeton Road, Templeton; (805) 610-2258; oleafarm.com. Δ

Staff Writer Bulbul Rajagopal can be reached at brajagopal@newtimesslo.com.

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