We have been farming almonds for 18 years. I moved here from Chicago to get married, my wife grew up here on a dairy. In 1994 we bought our first almond orchard. As we grew and added to the ranch, we were looking for a crop to diversify into. After considering blueberries among other things, we decided on olives. After researching many varieties (mainly tasting single varietals), I chose the five varieties that we planted in 2001.
Our Proprietor’s Blend was the first oil that we made. This blend was started when my young olive trees were barely producing. There seemed like too much to waste, but not near enough to send to the mill. I started noticing neighbors and friends with olives that never seemed to get picked, so we offered to pick them in exchange for some of the oil. I couldn’t call the oil ‘estate’ since not all of the olives were from our property, so we called it Proprietor’s Blend. We won a silver medal our first year, and last year our Proprietor’s Blend won a gold and bronze.
The Estate Blend is one of 2 of last year’s oils (and the first year of the Estate Blend.). The designation ‘estate’ (similar to wine), means that all (95% or more) of the olives came from a particular ranch or piece of property. This oil won 3 silver medals. First from an internal California Olive Oil Council (COOC) competition, second from the Yolo County Fair Olive Oil Competition, and lastly, the Los Angeles International Olive Oil Competition. The LA competition is by far the most prestigious including oils from all over the world. We’re still striving for a ‘Best of Class’!
This is the second year that we harvested the Estate Arbequina. The interesting thing about these olives is that they are grown on a trellis, and harvested with a grape harvester. They are semi dwarf trees, that are pruned and trained similar to grapes.
All of our oils are certified extra virgin by the California Olive Oil Council. The standards set by the COOC are more stringent than International Olive Oil Council. Each oil must first go through a chemical analysis to meet certain chemical requirements. If it passes the chemical analysis, then it goes to a highly trained taste panel at the COOC. Here it must pass a taste as well as the ‘sniff’ test, where they can taste or smell any defects in the oil. Once it passes this stage, the oil is certified. The COOC is working diligently at this time to try and get the federal government to adopt standards for all olive oil that is imported into the country, as many of these oils are not %100 Extra Virgin.
This year we planted more high density olive trees (the ones on the trellis). These are 2 Italian varieties Favolosa and Allegra from my friend Umberto from Olivi Nursery: http://www.olivinursery.com/
All of the oils are available in 8 oz. and 16 oz. bottles.
Ernie keeping an eye on things!
Almonds in bloom with bees for pollination.