Grove 45 is a new and very special olive oil for me, introduced to me by a friend who’s in the food, but not olive oil business. Although it comes from California’s Napa valley, it has exactly that balance of fruitiness and bitterness that I expect from a fine Tuscan oil. That’s not surprising since it’s made from the traditional Tuscan field blend of frantoio, leccino, pendolino and maurino olives, plus a stealthy infiltration of Sicilian nocellara del Belice.
The oil is made by Nena Talcott and Bonnie Storm who joined forces almost ten years ago after each had made a successful career in California farming, producing award-winning olive oils and wines.
Part of the high quality of this oil comes from the cultivars, but no doubt another part comes from the location of the trees, at an 800 to 1,300 foot elevation in the Chiles Valley of northeastern Napa. This translates into an early harvest, which almost always insures higher quality oil. Yet another part of the quality comes from careful packaging, in a stylish but very protective aluminum bottle (with a food grade liner) that completely seals the oil from light and atmospheric contamination, the bane of great olive oil.
Production is small–there are only 500 trees in the orchard–thus the oil isn’t cheap. But great oils are never cheap, an important consideration when you’re shopping for olive oil. The website (Grove45.com) lists places to source it. I also found it on a website called mouth.com for $35 for a 315 ml (that’s about 10.5 ounces) bottle. But it’s worth it for the freshness, the flavor, and the tribute it pays to fine California olive oil.