Olive trees at Calolea Olive Oil tasting room in Bangor. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

With agriculture being a multi-million dollar industry in Butte County, it’s no surprise those involved in it want to celebrate what they bring to the table.

That is exactly what the Sierra Oro Farm Trail is all about. For $40 (the cost this year) people were able to visit an array of ag related businesses, taste their goods, learn about what they do and get deals on purchases.

The monthlong harvest celebration in October included wineries, olive oil, meat, cheese, jams, lavender, rice and more.

An array of wine and hard liquor to taste at Hickman Family Vineyards. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

According to the 2021 Butte County Crop & Livestock Report, the estimated gross value of agricultural production was $609,955,303, which was $15,429,406 less than 2020. The 10-year average for Butte County is $713,185,710.

This was my first year to experience any aspect of Oro Trails. My friend, Kristin, invited me along for a day of wine and olive oil tasting. While I have gone to a handful of wineries in the area, it was my first time to visit all of the places we went to on this particular Sunday.

The view from Hickman Family Vineyards in Butte County. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

We headed to the Bangor Wine Region, a place I had not heard of—though that is not saying much. We skirted around Oroville, where we came across acreage that made me feel a bit like being in the El Dorado County wine region; probably because Bangor is in the foothills and a former Gold Rush town. The familiarity I felt also had to do with the unpretentious nature of the wineries themselves. The hospitality and openness of the owners and workers clearly let you know you were not in Napa or Sonoma counties. The emphasis was on the product, not on sales.

First stop was Hickman Family Vineyards where more than just wine is poured. Spirits from Cobble Ridge Artisan Distillery are also part of the offerings. These are made down the road by family members.

Inside the Hickman tasting room. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

This winery has been open since 2011, while the distillery opened its doors five years later.

I left with some bubbly and grappa moonshine.

Next up was Spencer-Shirey Wines. A few campers pulled in while we were tasting because owners Mary Spencer and Kimball Shirey allow a few trailers to spend the night—for a fee, of course. What a tranquil place to call home while on the road.

Then to be steps from great tasting wines—especially the reds, well, I was a bit jealous we had to keep driving.

An array of delicious choices at Calolea Olive Oil. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Drive we did, though, to great olive oil. Those trees—they seemed much larger than what I’ve seen before. Monica and Michael Keller at Calolea Olive Oil have Mission, Manzanillo and Tuscan olive trees.

With so many flavors to taste, it was hard to pick a favorite. Nonetheless, I was able to narrow it down to buy a few gift bottles.

The entire experience makes me want to explore more of what Butte County has to offer during Oro Trail days in 2023.

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