The L.A. County Fair, in conjunction with the California Olive Oil Council (COOC), will host an Extra Virgin Olive Oils of the World competition during this yearís L.A. County Fair Wines of the World competition at the Millard Sheets Gallery at Fairplex in Pomona, California, May 14-16.
This olive oil competition, begun in 2000, adds yet another facet to the Fairís long running, prestigious wine competition, the oldest and largest of any county fair in the country.
The Extra Virgin Olive Oil competition will be judged in three categories - early harvest, late harvest and International - and will be separated according to cultivar (olive varietal). Only extra virgin oils, which have been chemically analyzed with free fatty acid levels of one percent or less and produced from the 2002-2003 harvest, are eligible.
For the second year, flavored olive oils will also be judged. These flavors can range from various citrus flavors to herb flavors.
The California Olive Oil Council, in cooperation with the University of California at Davis, created the first official olive oil Panel of Tasters in the United States. The panel is the only officially recognized group in the United States to receive certification from the International Olive Oil Council in Madrid, Spain. This recognition was received in 2001.
Members of the Panel of Tasters have undergone a training and certification program under the direction of Panel Leader Roberto Zecca. The UC Davis certification program follows stringent guidelines established by the International Olive
Oil Council. Juan Ramon Izquierdo, a Master Olive Oil Taster employed by Spainís
Agricultural Ministry, developed the training program. Out of the nearly 100 individuals who have completed the olive oil tasting classes, only 25 have been certified. Twelve of these tasters will be present at the L.A. County Fair competition.