by cheri sabraw

We are olive farmers. The harvest and press are six weeks away. Our olives are plump, sucking water like long-distance runners, so close to the finish line.

The smell of olives reduced to particulates, oil, and yes, probably a few fruit fly larvae, is a sweet, earthy and sensual.



This past weekend, our friends K. and H. invited us to stay overnight in a little house nestled in the middle of a fertile vineyard bulging with Cabernet grapes, just days away from harvest.

Most of us Californians take for granted the close proximity of luscious vineyards until this time of year when fall arrives like a proud papa to rustle leaves, heat up the air, and await the results of his rendezvous with spring.

Then,  we  Bacchanalian revelers only hours from Napa Sonoma, Paso Robles, Carneros, and yes, the glorious Alexander Valley, become children again, fawning over leaves, grapes, branches, vistas, and yes, wine. Oh, let’s add bocce ball to this picture.

With our friends, we sampled Primitivo, Cabernet, Pinot Noir and Rose wines. To make matters juicier, we tasted Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. Luckily, a wise woman asked for crackers.


The Alexander Valley lies north of Santa Rosa. Her nose points to Cloverdale; her hips broaden at Geyserville and her toes wiggle at Healdsburg. She is a beauty, especially when seen from Rodney Strong’s Rockaway vineyard above the valley.



Thank you to our friends and their friends for a dizzying weekend sipping the Fruit of the Vine!


About Cheri

Writer, photograph, artist, mother, grandmother and wife.
This entry was posted in Growing Olives, Life and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to Fermentation

  1. cpartner@comcast.net says:

    lovely lovely lovely!

  2. Magnificent Northern California at harvest time!

  3. wkkortas says:

    Those views are more than a touch breath-taking.

  4. shoreacres says:

    One of my customers just finished a first pressing of their olives: 69 gallons. As he said the other day, “Do you know how small olives are?” I can’t even imagine the pile of fruit it took to make those 69 gallons. The best news is, I get some.

    I love your photos. I spent a fair amount of time in those wineries. And, as a bonus, I had my first applewood smoked chicken sausage in Napa. A good wine is good, but a good smoked chicken sausage is great!

    • Cheri says:

      Your customer must have 150 trees—either that, or like everything else in Texas, his olives are big. Each tree should produce about a gallon. In our case, six of the trees this year have no olives. We have no idea why. That leaves us with 52 trees. We are hoping for 40 gallons…I’ll ship you a bottle if we are successful and you can compare!

      Oh yes. Why is it that the wineries roast applewood smoked sausage to accompany their red wines? It absolutely has to do with sales…right? I had some sausage like that at Opolo Winery in Paso Robles.

  5. Richard says:

    As a strait-laced puritan, I am shocked and dismayed – and a welll brought-up girl like you ……….. on the other hand.

    You conjure up such luscious and wicked notions with your decadence. I am utterly intoxicated by it all: a fallen grape.

    I am glad to see, however, that you have found room for some unmarried fruit flies – and an orphanage.

    • Cheri says:

      You’ve always had a penchant for tone and language oh fallen grape. You picked up exactly what I had in mind. I am not a puritan by any stretch of the imagination but I tend to be attracted to them…

  6. Cyberquill says:

    You can’t say “crackers.” It’s racially insensitive.

  7. Cheri says:

    I’m sure you are sick of my complimenting you for your wit so I won’t. Everything is “racist,” especially here in the Bay Area. It’s the new sword, the new silencer. Why you are racist, Cheri.
    Last year at the olive harvest, my brother-in-law yelled out, “Black Olives Matter” and I thought I would roll down the hill laughing.

    • Cyberquill says:

      Black Olives Matter. Good one. Who gets your olives anyway? Do you share them generously with your commenters or are you an olives niggard?

      • Cheri says:

        We give away our EVOO and yes, I have mailed a bottle to several of my readers. Do you think OO can be mailed to Austria with all the security? If so, I will mail you one.

        • Cyberquill says:

          How many bottles can your little olive orchard possibly yield so that you have some oil left for yourself?

          • Cheri says:

            Last yesr, , because we pressed the olives ourselves—a time consuming process– we bottled 125 but threw away lots of fruit. This year, we are hoping to double our yield. If we are able to take the fruit we cannot press on property to a commercial press, then we should have 300 or more bottles.

  8. Chris says:

    I loved seeing you peek through the vines – was that before or after the tasting? Please give your brother-in-law a hug from me, I still laugh over his “Black Olives Matter,” shared over t

  9. Chris says:

    Sorry, hit the wrong key – to finish – remembered you sharing this story while sampling your olive oil last year.

  10. Cheri says:

    We will be bringing you and Tom a new bottle of 2016 oil ( I hope…)

  11. samba2017 says:

    Beautiful vineyard photos. Thanks for sharing! I have a poetry blog here on WordPress and today’s poem is about wine in case you have time to look? Have a good day, Sam 🙂

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