Tuesday, April 24, 2007


I think all good olive oil, like wine, should speak of its terroir. I hope that when you taste Amelia Oil you can imagine and taste the gentle green hills with their rocky soil, the gentle spring sunlight and the sound of cicadas on a hot summer day. Maybe I am exaggerating a bit but I do think oil and wine can tell the story of place, which includes history, culture and humanity. I guess that is the beauty of consuming something that is very much a product of the land and this is what my mother and I want to stay true to importing olive oil from a small producer in Italy.

What got me thinking again about terroir was a trip to Washington State and Oregon wine countries. It was interesting to taste wines from regions that are still finding their identity and getting in touch with their unique terroir. Oregon Pinot Noirs, for example, are starting to have an identity all of their own that is strongly influenced by the red rocky soil of undulating green hills that can be found in much of the Dundee area. French wine makers have been drawn to the Oregon but they are making wines that are anything but French.

I kept looking out for olive trees on my trip but I imagine the Washington and Oregon winters are just too cold for olive trees. There were a few bottles of California oil on shelves in stores but I did not have the opportunity to taste them. Of course, olives were some of the first crops planted by Spanish and then later Italian settlers in California. For these Mediterranean peoples the olive tree was an integral part of everyday life. In many parts of Italy olives, wheat and grapes were crops that were all grown on the same land. Due to the mechanisation of farming, it is quite rare to see this combination these days. However, these three crops remain central to the Mediterranean diet and cultural identity.

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