If you need to extend an olive branch to someone, you might as well offer the whole tree, plus a few bottles of olive oil. The place to get them is the Temecula Olive Oil Company in Old Town Temecula. The tasting room and shop sells Mission and Arbequina olive trees large enough to go in the ground or small enough to fit in a pot, as well as extra virgin olive oils. These all come from the company's ranch, 18 miles outside of town, where the olives–44 varieties of them–are hand-picked, then hand-pressed.
In the tasting room you can try early and late harvest oils, pure or blended with flavorings such as fresh basil and roasted garlic. For a citrus oil, a whole blood orange is crushed with Mission olives. There is also a lemon oil, and, during the summer, a picante pepper oil spiced up with jalapeño. Rotture di Oro (tears of gold), which was pressed from olives that were harvested green last fall, captures the grassy, earthy, herbal flavors of Tuscany.
Owned by Catherine Pepe and Nancy Curry, the company practices sustainable agriculture and doesn't waste a thing. What doesn't go into oil goes into soaps, lotion, lip balm and other products.
Curry's husband Thom is the production manager and conducts tours of the olive ranch Saturdays at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. During harvest, he'll show how the olives are picked and crushed. The next harvest will take place late October to November. Call the shop for directions.
Temecula Olive Oil Company: 28653 Old Town Front Street, Temecula; (951) 693-0607 or (866) 654-8396.