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Northwest Growers Expand Olive Tree Operations

Groves of olive trees might bring to mind for you sun-soaked Mediterranean or Californian landscapes. But in the last 10 years, a few Northwest growers have significantly ramped-up their production of domestic olive oil. They harvest just in time for the holidays.

The Durant family started in the wine grape business in Yamhill County, Oregon. The family diversified into olive growing about seven years ago.

They have found that certain varieties of olive trees do OK despite the damp chill of Northwest winters. They’re up to about 17 acres of olive trees which yield thousands of pounds of olives.

Family patriarch Ken Durant says production of Northwest olive oil appears to be increasing in-step with the region’s premium wine industry and local-food movement.

“You know Northwesterners are good to Northwesterners. We’ll never be able to make enough oil, it’s our belief, to satisfy the region’s requirement.”

The Durants produce two kinds of oil from their twisted-trunked trees. One called a “fresh press” is their minimally processed oil which yields a greener, spicier flavor. The other, is high-quality extra virgin.

On the Web:

Oregon Olive Mill

Anna King calls Richland, Washington home and loves unearthing great stories about people in the Northwest. She reports for the Northwest News Network from a studio at Washington State University, Tri-Cities. She covers the Mid-Columbia region, from nuclear reactors to Mexican rodeos.