The producers behind the Groves on 41 have parlayed award-winning production into a tourism operation focused on sustainable farming and cooking with olive oil.
The Groves on 41 is based in California and appropriately named as the company is located in the rolling hills of Templeton near the State Route 41, which connects the Central Coast with the San Joaquin Valley and the Sierra Nevada.
This family business is run by Karen and Jennifer Tallent, a dynamic mother and daughter duo who combined their knowledge and passion and talent for life with their previous careers to set up a working olive farm.
Olives are very forgiving. They have taught us so much about life; they are so hardy and resilient.
The company took root in 2010, with the first olive trees planted in 2011 and has expanded ever since.
The Tallents have faced setbacks and challenges, but through perseverance, dedication, hard work, passion and belief in their farm, they found the resilience to surpass the stumbling blocks and succeed in their new venture.See Also:Producer Profiles
From the beginning, they took a hands-on approach and had to learn the olive business from the soil to fruition. Karen Tallent told Olive Oil Times about some of this year’s challenges.
“The year’s not over yet, but so far, we had to change our bottle and labels when we could no longer find our 200-milliliter bottle,” she said. “All gift sets and die-cut foam had to be reassessed, too.”
However, the Tallents’ hard work and years of experience were awarded again at the 2022 NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition, where the Templeton-based producers earned a Gold Award for a robust Koroneiki monovarietal and a Silver Award for a medium Arbequina.
Their portfolio consists of a range of olive oils, including a limited-edition field blend. Other products include olive oils infused with praline, jalapeño, cinnamon and chipotle.
Tallent said winning awards at the NYIOOC was especially significant as they are a small-scale family operation.
“We are a small family farm with 4,000 trees planted,” she said. “This is a huge honor for us. We work hard, so this recognition means the world to us.”
In her previous career, Jennifer worked for the Ritz Carlton Hotel and Balboa Bay Beach Club. She concluded that it was time to apply all her hospitality skills and experience to create a vacation rental for those interested in vacationing in the olive groves.
“We have a delightfully elegant farmhouse listed on Airbnb or via our website,” Jennifer Tallent said. “Guest reviews are off-the-charts. They seem to like the place as much as we do. We’re so grateful when they select our property and then wind up returning, too.”
Aside from overnight stays, the Tallents also offer farm tours that demonstrate the olive oil production process, host private events and give talks about sustainable olive farming practices.
They said their vacation rental is an ideal vehicle to attract clientele wishing to combine a vacation with an experience of olive farming.
They said the key elements are finding oil that is light on the palate, has balanced fruitiness, bitterness and pungency with a solid finish at the back of the throat and a certain “olive oil cough.”
“We have a lot of fun demonstrating this and arming our guests to go anywhere, including at home, to check their pantry and let their palate determine the freshness of the olive oils,” Tallent said. “The fresher, the better it is for you, too.”
“We then move quickly into discussions about olive oil use in everyday cooking and meals,” she added. “Our cooking demonstrations at partner kitchens include olive oil for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert. We provide recipe cards and serving suggestions with all our fun flavors and extra virgin olive oil because they don’t do you any good sitting in the bottle.”
Like many producers who do not come from generational farms, the Tallents believe that anyone willing to put in the work and meet the steep learning curve can get into olive farming.
“Be prepared for a learning experience that will tax all your skillsets and leave you fulfilled at the end of the day with no problems sleeping,” they said. “You will just look forward to the next day.”
“Olives are very forgiving,” Jennifer added. “They have taught us so much about life; they are so hardy and resilient.”
Currently, they are looking forward to the next stage of development and expanding their operations.
“We would like to partner with a larger grower, perhaps in the Northern California Corning area,” Tallent said. “We would benefit from having a full tasting room and commercial kitchen where we could really dig into the uses, recipes and demos.”
“Inviting guest chefs and hosting retreat sessions and becoming a larger agritourism operation would benefit a larger producer as well as us,” she added. “The industry is still in its early stages of educating the public about good, fresh olive oil, and the public is truly eager to learn.”