How do you know what olive oil to buy? I am asked this all the time. When you stand in front of row after row of olive oil at your local market, it can be overwhelming and confusing. Labels are more about marketing than informing and it is common to grab a bottle thinking you’ve gotten a local product only to discover, when reading the small print, that you’ve come home from something from, say, North Africa.

So what do you do?

As always, my suggestion is to shop as close to home as possible, by which I mean buy from a known local producer, preferably one where you can see both the trees and the pressing facility. Also crucial is the date of production; olive oil is best the moment it is pressed from the olives. It deteriorates with time ; the best oil is usually the freshest oil, provided it has been made properly.

Sometime in the next week or so I’ll be featuring a new destination that will take a lot of the mystery out of shopping for local olive oil. So stay tuned.  And for now, here’s a great option.

Lou Preston, at the Healdsburg farmers market

Lou Preston has been making olive oil for years using estate olives planted from tiny trees he brought in from Italy. Preston’s Il Promiscuo Olio Extra Virgin is available at the winery for $32 for a 500ml bottle. But here’s the hot tip.  Lou is selling it at his stall at the Healdsburg farmers market in a special bottling, for farmers market customers only, for $20. His estate vinegar is also available at the market.

A special bottling of Lou Preston's olive oil, available only at the Healdsburg farmers market