Queen Creek’s Annual Olive Blossom Festival

While living in Detroit, Perry and Brenda Red decided to take a vacation to Scottsdale during the winter of 1996. It was a solid decision – you don’t have to shovel sunshine, right? While strolling around Old Town, taking in all the shops and restaurants, they noticed olive trees growing in the streets.

After returning home to Michigan, Brenda asked Perry, “Why don’t we make Olive Oil in Arizona?” And the rest is history! One year later, the Rea family headed west, and Perry enrolled at UC Davis to learn how to grow, harvest and produce olive oil. Perry, Brenda, John (the current president), and his brother are all olive oil sommeliers – trained professionals who evaluate and select high-quality olive oils.

The Rea family, circa 1997. Photo courtesy of John Rea

“My brother and I got our certification in New York, while my parents got their certificates in Italy,” John said. “You can sign up for courses to become a sommelier online, but it is an in-person course you take.”

The mill officially opened 27 years ago, and the business has grown to include much more than bottles of oil. The reason for choosing Queen Creek?

“The area has a rich history of farming, with fertile soil and a climate conducive to agriculture. The area aligns with our shared vision of creating a local, sustainable, family-owned business,” John said.

The company is the only producer of extra virgin olive oil in Arizona – but that’s not all. They also run a full-service restaurant, storefront and deli, and they host tours daily. Queen Creek Olive Mill offers – you guessed it – olive oil, but they also have homemade vinegar and reductions, stuffed olives, tapenades, martini mixes, barbeque, past and hot sauces, cremas, honey, chocolate, dipping spices and sparkling wines.

“Our line has grown immensely since we opened. We also carry over a dozen local, Arizona-made products, from jams and jellies to freshly made chocolates,” John said. “We can’t forget about Olivespa, my mom’s brand that she founded in 2012. They make lip balms, soaps, body oils, salves and lotion sticks made with our olive oil.”

Folks who visit the mill are not short of things to do – especially in the spring when the business hosts its annual Olive Blossom Festival, which has been happening for over a decade. As the name suggests, this event focuses on the blossoming of the olive trees.

The Olive Blossom Festival takes place on April 20 and 21, 2024. Photo courtesy of John Rea

“April is the one time of year that olive trees bloom. This phase is very important in the development of the olives, and we love to share the full blossom-to-bottle experience with the community,” John said. “Fun fact: Only 1-10 percent of the flowers actually become fruit!”

Guests who attend will experience Olive Crown making from the branches right off of the trees, cooking demonstrations, wine and food tastings in the vendor alley, tractor tours around the estate and corn hole competitions. A new addition this year is a family movie night on the festival’s first day.  

“With all of the new growth here in Queen Creek, I am excited to see new faces around the mill and to hear people’s experiences of their first times here,” John said. Also, there’s nothing like sipping wine underneath a beautiful olive tree.”

Guests can immerse themselves in all things olive oil at this year’s event. Photo courtesy of John Rea

Other events hosted at Queen Creek Olive Mill include Olive Oil 101, a 45-minute class for guests to learn about the mill, how it started, the family, and the ins and outs of extra virgin olive oil. They also host monthly events like Pizza Date Night and Sangria Socials. The largest event they host annually is the Garlic Fest in September.

The (free!) The Olive Blossom Festival takes place on April 20 and 21 at Queen Creek Olive Mill, 25062 S. Meridian Road, Queen Creek. For more information, visit queencreekolivemill.com.

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