15 Mar

U.C. Davis Olive Oil Gets Rave Reviews

By Dave Marquis,

It began as a way to get discarded olives from 2,000 trees off the U.C. Davis bike trails, where they were causing scores of accidents. But it’s wound up putting the university on the map as the maker of some top-ranked olive oils.

“We’ve got fewer legal costs. We’re not spraying the trees any more to prevent them from flowering. And we’re getting revenue from the olive oil,” said campus building and grounds manager Dan Flynn.

“Very good,” said one happy oil sampler Wednesday when this year’s three blends of oil were unveiled amid snacks and wine.

Oil blender Alexandra Devarenne said the 2007 harvest was timed perfectly and that the program includes sensory analysis and data-gathering to get it just right. Tasters said the blends are unique. Devarenne described one as a mixture of tobacco, leather and age.

The oils are getting snapped up quickly. Last year’s supply sold out in six months and this year’s may go even quicker. University officials said the small amounts it’s making are not to compete with other makers, just to save money and move the art and science of blending forward. Asked if the oils were better than Italian rivals, one taster responded, “Oh, it’s from California, of course.”

If you’re interested in picking up a bottle of U.C. Davis’ special olive oil, bottles are for sale from $12 to $15 each only at the U.C. Davis bookstore on campus.
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