Though the edible olive originated in the Mediterranean, East County farmers have been putting their takes on the ancient fruit and its delicious oil for decades.
Carrying on that proud tradition is the McCauley family, who planted their first olive orchards in Brentwood in 2000, knowing the trees were drought-resistant, beautiful and produced a much-needed and healthy product.
“Around 2004, we started selling our olive oil to local restaurants and farm stands, but we were aware of the need and desire from the community to open a country store, offering unique items you do not find in a normal grocery store,” said Maria McCauley, who runs the business with her husband, Sean, and their daughters, Marissa, Mallory and Michaela. “We opened our olive-oil country store in 2009 on Balfour Road, on the property where my husband grew up since he was 5 years old. We started out small, offering our extra virgin olive oil and a variety of other local products, but we have grown into a country store filled with a large variety of items, which are mostly local.”
In 1975, Sean and his family moved to Brentwood, where they grew almonds and had a chicken farm, so the family’s farming roots go back many years.
“We have both grown up in the area and still remember the first traffic light going in for the McDonald's and Luck Shopping center, when we attended Liberty High School,” said Maria. “We are in the center of the farming community – the people in the area are amazing, and it is home.”
With roots this deep, it’s no surprise the entire McCauley family works in the business.
“My husband, Sean, runs the farming end of the business, and I manage the store and do all the gift sets,” said Maria. “When we started out and were much smaller, our entire family participated in the harvesting of the olives. Our two oldest daughters, Marissa and Mallory, are now in college down south, so they work in the store on their holiday and summer breaks. Our youngest daughter, Michaela, is now in high school and helps with special events and helps with a variety of duties in our store.”
Some of the items the McCauleys offer in their store a wide variety of extra-virgin olive oils, stuffed olives, balsamic vinegar, honey, gift sets, frozen fruit pies, jams, spices, nuts, candies and an entire line of body products containing their olive oil, which are made by a local Brentwood vendor.
“Our extra-virgin olive oil is our most popular item, due to the fact that our customers know and appreciate that we planted all of our orchards, pick the olives and do all of our bottling right here in Brentwood,” said Maria. “Not to mention that the oil is amazing and nothing like what you would find in a grocery store.”
Among their cold-pressed, extra-virgin olive oils, customers can find such delicious flavors as basil, butter, chipotle, garlic, jalapeño, lemon, line, orange, oregano and rosemary. So far, their enchanting store and enticing fare keep their patrons coming back for more.
“I discovered this little store … what a nice surprise,” said Roxanne Voeltz in an online review. “Kitties greeted me out front, then I walked in to find all kinds of gourmet treats! There was a very sweet, knowledgeable young lady answering all my questions. I left with a blackberry pie, honey sticks, olive oil seasoning for bread dipping, fresh eggs, some amazing orange scented lotion and candy. I can't wait to go back and purchase some olive oil, and I can't wait to try the pie!”
Having moved to a new location a couple of months ago, the McCauleys plan to do a grand opening for the entire shopping center sometime around June, but have not yet set a date. However, they are always at the Harvest Fest, as well as the Art Wine and Jazz fest in Brentwood each year.
McCauley Olive Groves Country Store is now located at 380 W Country Club Drive, Suite G, in Brentwood. For more information, visit mccauleyolivegroves.com or call 925-754-6457.