Saturday, June 30, 2012
Bella Vista Ranch
Crazy I was so excited about this experience before we even left home, and I was even more impressed than my hopes held! We drove into the ranch, flanked by grapevines overflowing with beautiful purple and green grapes...it looked just like a Napa Valley postcard! Notice I said postcard because I have not actually been to Califormia! Our tour started out with the owner giving us the history of olive oil in general, of his personal history in the business, all the way up to current events pertaining to olive oil production. He was a fantastic storyteller and fun to listen to! I was only momentarily distracted by his puppy "Big Daddy" who came out to socialize with all of us on the tour. It was apparent he had vast knowledge of the industry and a true passion for the business. He took us out and showed us his olive trees which did have olives and explained the differences in type and how they harvest them. He helped us understand how his ranch is flourishing despite extreme Texas weather conditions and showed us all the different vegetables he is currently growing there. We went on to see the olive press-I can't remember the official name- and he explained how it is used and how the process has changed over the years. Afterwards we participated in a wine and food tasting of the ranch's products. We drank-yes we DRANK-olive oil and learned the important properties of really fresh extra virgin oils. We sampled some of the flavors of olive oil bottled right there on the ranch, as well as jams and vinegrettes. Of course we walked away with some amazing dipping oils, jam, wine (the Texas Sunset is fabulous), and even a bar of soap made with olive oil! I couldn't stop taking pictures this place was so breathtaking! I learned so much too. Well worth the $15 tour price! And can I just say... The olive tree is gorgeous--feels stately but each is unique and we learned that they can live to about 4,000 years! Simply Amazing.