Top-shelf olive oils from California’s Central Valley

By Christina Mueller

A passion project for generations in the Coldani family, the Coldani Olive Ranch was created to share the flavor of their estate-grown, pristinely milled oils. Situated in the heart of California’s verdant Central Valley, the ranch organically and sustainably grows 50,000 olive trees over 100 acres, then mills the olives using state of the art equipment and techniques. The remarkable results are worthy of the label “Calivirgin”—the company’s aptly named brand, which captures the essence of both California and extra-virgin olive oil.

Calivirgin’s Sampler Set is an ideal introduction to the ranch’s bounty. Made up of five 3.38 ounce bottles, this set includes the namesake Arbequina and Koroneiki blend; a 100 percent barrel-aged balsamic vinegar from Modena, Italy; and three bottles of flavored oils: Lusty Lemon, Bountiful Basil, and Guilty Garlic. Together they beautifully express the terroir of California (yep, the lemon, basil, and garlic are all grown locally) and have broad appeal—perfect as dipping oils or to blend with the included balsamic for a quick dressing.

Seeking a more robust flavor experience? Dive into Calivirgin’s jalapeño-garlic olive oil. As with all Calivirgin products, the jalapeño and garlic are crushed with the olives, resulting in an unfiltered, extravagant olive oil that hints subtly of garlic and sweet olive before transitioning at the back of the palate to a warm chile heat.

Calivirgin Olive Oil Dipping Spices are an ideal complement to their oils. A heady blend of garlic, onion, and sun-dried tomatoes swirled with a fragrant mix of basil and oregano, these dipping spices are the very definition of Italian savoriness, adding bold flavor to any marinade.

Calivirgin has recently branched out into another direction, too: Lodi, that is—the world-renowned wine grape region, where many of the vineyards have planted olive trees primarily for aesthetic reasons. Rather than seeing so many of these olives fall to the ground and go to waste, the Coldani family started handpicking them and bottling the unique small-batch varieties under the Lodi Olive Oil Company label. Currently the label consists of Frantoio, Ascolano, and a Miller’s Blend, which for 2017 was made up of Frantoio, Leccino, and Mission olives.
Word on the Street

  • Calivirgin has raked in countless accolades over the years, including a sweep of the 2017 SOFI awards. Their jalapeño-garlic took the gold, the blood-orange nabbed silver, and the Premium Arbequina landed the bronze.
  • Calivirgin won best of show with their lemon at the California State Fair.
  • For its fresh flavor and exuberant basil aroma, Calivirgin Bountiful Basil snagged the 2017 Good Food Award.
  • All in all, Calivirgin won 106 awards in 2017, including five best of show awards and eight best in class awards.

Divine purity

It is perhaps only in the cloistered world of olive oil that the word “virgin” is weighted with such exceptional gravitas. In the United States, achieving the status of “virgin” means not only years of hard work to grow and harvest the best-tasting olives, but submitting your oils to the California Olive Oil Council for rigorous testing of the oil’s chemistry. “Extra-virgin” further distinguishes it as free of any defects of odor or flavor, and is the highest grade an oil can receive. On this family-run ranch, there is honor to match the exceptional quality in each bottle of their extra-virgin oil.