November 30, 2004
The fourth annual Sonoma Valley Olive Festival started with the blessing of the olives at the Mission San Francisco Solano de Sonoma December 4th. Events run through February 26-27. There are dozens of promotions and activities ranging from pairings of olive oil and wine at local wineries, olive oil milling, a martini competition, olive art exhibits, etc. Festivities end with an olive themed Artisan Market. For a full listing of events look at the events section in this newsletter or go to www.olivefestival.com.
This year the blessing was given by Father Aurelio Villa after presentations by Wendy Peterson of the Sonoma Valley Visitors Bureau, Ed Stolman of the Olive Press and Gabrielle Leonhard of the Mission Olive Preservation, Restoration, and Education Project (MOREP).
Attendees mingled after the service in cold but sunny weather, listening to the music of a Mariachi band. MOREP had displays and encouraged purchases of trees and olive oil to support their project.
An Olive Harvest Tasting was held in the plank-floored second story of the adobe Barracks building built in 1851. Vendors offering tastings included Jacuzzi family winery, L'Olivier, The Olive Press, MOREP, Don's Olives and others.
Mariachi band entertained the crowd after the blessing of the olives at the Sonoma Mission
Several other Sonoma businesses celebrated the beginning of the festival with special events. B.R. Cohn Winery in Glen Ellen had olive oil tasting at the wine bar and tours of their 130 year old Picholine trees.
Schug Estate Winery poured their estate wines and hosted Catherine Farrell of Napa Tapas who offered tastes of her olive tapenades and olive oil.
Catherine Farrell of Napa Tapas