(photo by Francesca Mueller)
As announced, I’ve compiled a guide to getting great oil (there's a permanent tab in my navigation bar under Great Olive Oil, called "Great Olive Oils of the World" that will take you there). It’s still work in progress, and will grow and evolve a great deal over the coming months and years, so check in again soon for updates. This is my personal first cut at places to get great olive oil in America, and brands from various parts of the world to watch for. For now my focus is on the North American market, though this will also evolve with time.
In the Producers & vendors by state section, I mention both producers – growers and millers – who grow their own olives and make their own oil (primarily in California), and retailers who sell fine oils made for the most part by others. In the list of Selected brands by nation – for now Italy, Spain and Greece – I’ve listed brands that I’ve tried and loved, or know through totally reliable sources, though not all of these brands are currently distributed in the US. (I’m working on fixing this, too!)
This list does not include all, or even most, of the best oils in the world – I'll insert many hundreds more oils over time. Just to take two examples: 1) I haven’t mentioned a single Australian olive oil, though on average Australian oils may be the highest quality on earth – a generous range of Australian oils are coming soon; and 2) by rights Costco should be on this list, because though I haven’t been happy with every oil I’ve found in their stores, I’ve found their Kirkland store brand to be acceptable, and the Corto Olive oils which they sell to be both very good and reasonably-priced.
Despite its current limitations, this list is the first resource of its kind, in a market where labels on olive oil bottles simply don’t indicate the quality of the oil inside, and where trust in a person, a brand, a store, or an institution is the only way to ensure you’re getting excellent oil.