Circa 1894: The Graber Olive House

2:58:00 PM

Graber Family's Main Residence 1894

The Graber Olive House has been in business since 1894. The picturesque family owned olive production company is located in Ontario, California surrounded by a quiet residential area. The factory is small and contains only a few rooms for olive salting, canning, and labeling which are conveniently nestled behind a homey gift shop.

Some gifts inside the main shop.
The Olive... mmm.

The Graber family’s original house from the mid-1800’s still sits decked out in barn burgundy, layered and held together by lovely intertwined ivy branches, adjacent to the gift shop watching over the small factory. The property is just beautiful and full of sweet people who take care of the various shops and tours of the Graber Olive House. Tours are given all year round but to see something really awesome, make sure you come when olives are in season starting in October. I had a lovely chat with one of the tour guides, Betty Kilpatrick, while she showed us the various rooms where production takes place: boiler room, packing room, vat room, etc. All of the employees at the time were elderly retired people, natives of Ontario, who love to share stories, samples of their canned olives and anything else.

The Vat House

I first found out about the Graber Olive House on a television spot that features haunted places of California. That caught my attention, so I decided to tote the family down the Ontario to check it out. The hauntings were said to have taken place in the vat house where the olives are salted and stored in large vats for weeks at a time. Entering into the vat room, not necessarily feeling anything creepy, you can see the old wooden shack that covers the room with its hidden spaces and empty vast spaces. It had an antique quality to it, the whole place did. Every machine in the factory dates back to 1940 and earlier. You can imagine how museum worthy everything is which lends a nice view to the eye for those of us who like an occasional blast to the past.

One of the boilers dates 1930's

The Main Shop where you'll find olive gift sets.

Well, we didn’t see any ghosts but we got the full tour and sampled some olives that were to die for. Something interesting we learned while talking to Betty was that C.C. Graber, the original Graber owner, made a verbal agreement many years ago with Stater Brothers that said they could only buy a certain amount of cans in size 12 from the factory for sale in their stores. C.C. Graber wanted to keep production small that way the family would always be in control. The factory cannot produce mass amounts for worldwide production so the Graber olives that come in a variety of sizes, including the grand size 16, are produced sparingly. The olive is still produced at every step by able hands and is considered the California gourmet olive. Tours are free so go try some olives and have a leisure day at Graber Olive House. 

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