The Olive Oil Factory LLC / Sonoma Harvest Olive Oil and Winery – Buzz Oates
- Written by: Matt Dodge
- Produced by: Ben Goodridge
- Estimated reading time: 4 mins
Located near California’s storied Napa Valley, The Olive Oil Factory has been producing a range of top-quality oil and vinegars since 1997 under the original company name Critelli Olive Oil. Based on the traditions and techniques of founder Nicola Critelli, the company’s products are beloved by professional chefs and at-home gourmets alike.
The Olive Oil Factory established its first retail line, Sonoma Harvest, in 2004, which consists of premium olive oils, vinegars, salad dressings, nut oils and cocktail shrubs. The company also offers custom blends of olive oils and vinegars to customers in the food service industry, developing varieties that compliment a chef or restaurants’ specific flavor profile, as well as heavy emphasis on private label offerings and a co-packing service.
After 20 years in the business, The Olive Oil Factory’s success has seen the company outgrow its original location in Fairfield, California. As the company steadily expands its market share and consumers demand increased food-sourcing transparency, The Olive Oil Factory is making the move to a new, purpose-built facility that will allow the company to expand production, offer new products and better connect with its loyal customer base.
Improving customer connections
The Olive Oil Factory broke ground on a new, 92,568-square-foot facility in Fairfield, California in late 2015. Built by Sacramento-based commercial real estate developer Buzz Oates, the new manufacturing facility and production plant is slated for completion in July 2016.
In addition to serving as the company’s new manufacturing and production facility — complete with multiple olive oil and vinegar bottling lines — the new $10 million building will house 15,000 square feet of office and tasting room space.
“The tasting room is going to be a big draw,” says Marty Willett, senior asset manager at Buzz Oates. “It’s going to be about 2,000 square feet with high end improvements including a large tasting bar, fireplace and a viewing window where you can see an oil crushing machine.”
The new building replaces The Olive Oil Factory’s older facility, which is located just down the street. The new facility is not only twice the size, but it located at a four-way intersection, giving the company increased visibility and ease-of-access.
The tasting room which will be named Sonoma Harvest Olive Oil and Winery will feature a wine bar, a window overlooking the facility’s olive-crushing machine as well as an outdoor seating area and children’s room where kids can play while their parents take a tour. “There is also a room set up to host larger parties that might come through,” says Willett.
The new facility will also allow The Olive Oil Factory to move into an industry synonymous with the Napa Valley region: wine. The Olive Oil Factory will use the facility to promote its own in-house brand of wine, Sonoma Harvest. The wines are made from local grapes, while The Olive Oil Factory’s olive oils are made from a mix of local and Italian olives.
While Buzz Oates specializes in warehouse construction, the Olive Oil Factory project represented a new challenge for the established commercial real estate developer. “We build industrial warehouses and it’s pretty unique that we have this amount of detail in the office area and tasting room,” says Willett.
“Our primary focus is industrial warehouse distribution facilities with a smaller office component. We’re constructed over 2 million square feet over the past 2 years, but this project was unique from any we have constructed in the past.” he says.
The new facility will feature a rooftop solar array and LED lights; although Willett notes that the project is not aiming to achieve LEED certification. The facilities office space includes floating lights and ample natural light, improving energy efficiency while simultaneously improving employee morale. “It’s a very new, modern-type look,” says Willett.
Taking on new challenges
Buzz Oates has completed a number of large-scale facility development projects in northern California since its inception in 1951. The company specializes primarily in projects in the industrial sector, with occasional forays into office and retail work.
As one of the area’s leading real estate development contractors, the company has established connections with some of the region’s best subcontractors and completed more than 20 million square feet of industrial space since its inception.
Buzz Oates is focused largely on industrial work, with over 85 percent of its projects falling in that category. The Critelli facility marks a unique synthesis of Buzz Oates’ myriad expertise, combining elements of industrial, office and retail projects all in one building. “This has a lot more details to it, which is fun to see, but it’s a lot more work,” says Willett.
While the process was far more complex than the average Buzz Oates project, Willett says the team relished the chance to expand its expertise. “It required more manpower on the design team and coordination of all the subs. There were more challenges because of the many changes during the process: much more than we would on a typical distribution facility project because it’s all very high-end,” he says.
As the company continues to grow, Buzz Oates is focused on expanding its industrial portfolio. The real estate developer has a stated goal of building 1 to 2 million square feet of new industrial space every year, primarily in Northern California. “That’s where we’re focused on growing,” says Willett.
With a new, expanded facility by Buzz Oates that includes office space and a tasting room, Critelli Olive Oil is poised to continue its growth as one of California’s leading producers of olive oils, balsamic vinegars and now, wines.
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