The premier wine and food event in the north foothills, the North Yuba Harvest Festival, is celebrated annually on the last weekend in September in the tiny community of Oregon House, Yuba County. It's become a beloved tradition in the Sierra Nevada that celebrates North Yuba's bounty and local agriculture.
The 2012 Festival represented the 7th year of showcasing local gold-medal wines and olive oils that are produced by the unique climate and soils of the Yuba County foothills. North Yuba has received international recognition as a premium wine and olive oil region since the early 1980s. Wine grapes and olive trees have been cultivated here since the 19th century, and some olive trees are well over 100 years old.
The two-day Harvest Festival draws close to a thousand visitors, many of whom come to sample the new vintages and extra virgin oils, and to take home their selections of the “best of the best.” Others come for the whole range of attractions with over 60 vendors in all: food stalls offering locavore menus, arts & crafts, antiques, Farmers Market, coffee bistro, children’s activities and live musical entertainment.
What makes North Yuba wines and olive oils so special? In a word, the terroir. With altitudes around 1500 to 2000 feet, the region’s warm days and cool nights produce quality grapes with high acidity and concentrated flavors and aromas. The rocky soils force the vines to dig deep for water and nutrients, resulting in small yields but intense flavors.
North Yuba has its own recognized appellation, the North Yuba AVA (American Viticultural Area) established in 1985. North Yuba is also within the much larger Sierra Foothills AVA of which it forms the northernmost part. Four premium local wineries, right in the Oregon House community, are Renaissance Vineyard & Winery, Grant Eddie Winery, Clos Saron and Lucero Vineyards & Winery.
Local olive oil producers are equally recognized: Apollo, Sierra d’Oro and Calolea, have won Best of Show (in their respective categories) at the Los Angeles International Competition, probably the most important olive oil event of the year – with 400 producers from 23 countries competing.
The festival is located at an oak-shaded meadow above the Alcouffe Community Center, 9185 Marysville Road, Oregon House, CA 95962, and is held the last weekend in September, 10am to 4pm, both Saturday and Sunday.