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Sonoma County's olive harvest under way

After Sonoma County's abundant grape crop is crushed and safely in winery tanks, a lesser known but increasingly important harvest gets under way in Wine Country as farm workers turn from vibrant-hued vineyards to verdant olive groves.

Trading their hooked grape-harvest knives for long wooden sticks, workers in recent weeks have been coaxing the county's 600 acres of olive trees to release what growers say is shaping up to be a bumper crop of flavorful fruit.

Olive harvesting party

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"The harvest is really excellent this year," said Deborah Rogers, owner of the Olive Press in Sonoma. "It's abundant, the olives are beautiful and fresh and clean and the oil yields are high, so it's a good year."

That's good news for an industry that has seen some challenging harvests in recent years.

State and federal farm officials estimate the state's olive growers could produce 180,000 tons this year, roughly 2 1/2 times the 2011 harvest of 71,200 tons.


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