The warm Mediterranean climate around Paso Robles makes a good landscape for growing olives as well as the grape. Several groves of the silvery-green trees produce high-quality fruit that orchard owners press into small batches of artisan olive oil.
A number of orchards cluster here, offering fresh local olive oil and an array of cured olives. If you just can’t stomach another ounce of wine, clear your palate at one of the open olive tasting rooms.
One of these growers is Olea Farm (2985 Templeton Rd., Templeton, 805/610-2258, www.oleafarm.com, Sat.–Sun. 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m.). This orchard and its tasting room are located to the east of downtown Paso Robles. On a visit, you can take a tour of the orchards, then head inside to taste the different types of olive oil made from the Arbequina olive trees grown here.
With five or more distinct flavors of oil to choose from, you’ll certainly find a favorite to bring home with you. Be sure to say hi to Oak, the orchard dog, when you visit.
Mt. Olive Organic Farm (3445 Adelaida Rd, Paso Robles, 805/237-0147, www.mtoliveco.com, Thurs.–Sun. 10 a.m.–5 p.m., Apr.–Oct. until 7 p.m.) grows far more than just olives. The diverse crops at Mt. Olive range from cherries and apricots to sprouts to vegetables, as well as grass-fed beef and free-range chickens. The storefront sells meat, eggs, and the wide variety of produce grown here, plus an array of products made from the produce — such as jams, fruit leathers, dried fruits, and nuts.
If you’ve been trekking through the Far Out wineries and need a meal, you can also get fresh, hot, organic cuisine here. The small menu might include steak and chicken dishes, spaghetti, pizza, and soup. To drink, try the fresh-squeezed seasonal juices and slushies.
Down in Atascadero, call ahead to schedule a visit to the Green Acres Lavender Farm (8865 San Gabriel Rd., Atascadero, 805/466-0837, www.greenacreslavenderfarm.com, daily 10 a.m.–6 p.m., by appointment). One thing is certain: You will leave smelling good. This four-plus-acre farm grows 12,000 lavender plants — mostly Grosso and Provencal for their high oil production. At the farm stand or on the website you can purchase an array of natural products made from and with lavender oil.
Choose a bottle of pure essential oil to create your own means for scenting your home, soy candles, lavender soaps, lavender sachets, or even a jar of culinary lavender you can use in cooking. The owners and staff will be happy to give you suggestions for using their products, and to expound on the benefits of lavender in your home.
© Liz Hamill Scott from Moon California, 2nd Edition