iPhonetography Friday is a way for me to share my iPhone photos with the world. Usually there is a theme. Today is a special edition as it is the first iPhonetography Friday from my new iPhone 5! Also, because all these photos are of a beautiful ranch in Temecula, California where my mom and I spent a weekend recently. Not only is this ranch beautiful on it’s own, it also just happened to be a perfect day. The sky was a deep crystal blue with white wisps of cloud, and the air was a crisp 70 degrees, offering a beautiful backdrop to this olive oil tasting getaway.
About 20 miles east of Old Town Temecula is an area (it isn’t even classified as a city) known as Aguagna. This “census designated place” is home to what I consider a real gem of Riverside County, California. Temecula Olive Oil Company produces their olive oils and vinegars out on their secluded Olive View Ranch. Away from the bustle and noise of the city, Olive View Ranch provides a calming arena to wander through olive groves, pick herbs and vegetables from their organic garden, taste any of their 20+ varieties of olive oils and vinegars, or simply dine on their patio while listening to the soothing bubbling and splashing of the tiny, manmade waterfall. I could have stayed here all day enjoying the views and reading a book on any part of their vast ranch. If only they had a bed and breakfast attached to the property. That would have been amazing.
Everything on this ranch is grown organically, including their herb and vegetable garden which is tended by the family and volunteers. The mother of one of the owners comes by to plant, pick, prune and love on the garden. Often planting whatever she is in the mood for that day. We asked Catherine what a certain plant was and she said, “Well I don’t know! That’s a new one my mother-in-law must have planted recently.” The olives are picked by hand and carried directly to the crusher on the property where they are immediately crushed and pressed into olive oil. No shipping, traveling or waiting necessary. Another wonderful thing about this place is that they don’t let anything go to waste. Southern California is hit by brush fires too often and one year Olive View Ranch was left was several acres of burned and dried trees. What did they do with it all? They chopped it up and used it as the lining for their walkways and perimeters of gardens and seating areas. Once the saplings grow into trees that can support themselves, they take the rebar used to hold up the trees and turn them into awnings, trellises, gates and fences. Old tires that used to occupy this land as a dump have been used as a retaining wall which will soon be covered in plants. Wine barrels that are past their prime are turned into walls creating a lovely sitting area.
Catherine and Lisa were our guides while at Olive View Ranch, and I couldn’t think of two more knowledgeable or friendly people with whom to interact. The ranch is breathtakingly beautiful and the olive oils are creamy, buttery and delectable, but this place just wouldn’t be what it is without the wonderful owners. Family-owned business are always appealing to me, and this family really makes their business work. An International Olive Oil Council certified Master Taster who sits on the California Olive Oil Council’s Taste Panel (how’s that for a mouth full?) surely helps with the success of this company.
After tasting each of their olive oils (bread was not allowed! They wanted us to really taste and appreciate the flavor of each oil and vinegar) I was ready to buy everything they offered. I displayed some sort of self-control and walked away with their D’Luscious Fresh Lemon Olive Oil as well as a sampler pack of vinegar: Vanilla and Fig Balsamic, California Balsamic Bianco Pomegranate, and Honey Balsamic. I can’t wait to dive into these this weekend (this time with bread!) and see what luscious creations I can come up with. Simply dipping bread in these is definitely happening often, but I feel it is my duty to create a special recipe or two to highlight this magnificent product. Until then, head over to their website and see how they recommend using these oils and vinegars.