Unlike so many of the well-known California oil producers who are up in Napa and Sonoma, Walter Hewlett's ranch is located in Mariposa County, in the Sierra foothills of Yosemite National Park, right in the middle of the state. Owens Ranch is a rather modest production by modern California standards, about 5,000 trees. All are from straight Italian rootstock, not hybrids, grown with old-style wide spacing.
Although Walter’s trees are only at the very beginning of their producing years, the oil is already remarkably good. The olives are hand picked and pressed within twenty-four hours, and the oil is full without being overpowering, smooth but still notably peppery at the finish. It’s got pleasantly pungent herb notes straight up front and then moves gently but firmly around the entire flavor spectrum.
The oil from the fall 2011 harvest has a bright yellow in color, and redolent of freshly-cut grass. That grassiness persists in the flavor, which builds to a punchy - but not overpowering - peppery finish .
Four dollars from every sale of Owens Creek Extra Virgin Olive Oil funds research at the University of Michigan's Cardiovascular Center.