Last week we rounded up some of our favorite food bloggers for a tour of our ranch and mill. Some of the nicest people and most talented cooks and photographers from around the web spent the day following the olives from branch, to harvest, to milling, to bottle. We love the moment when folks reveal a gasping ‘ahhhh!’ when they see the vibrant green fresh oil flowing. Or, the ‘mmmm!’ as they breathe in the grassy and floral aroma walking among those in the mill. We are so thankful to share harvest with such passionate folks.
Under drizzly skies, the tour began with grower relations manager, Brian, as he explained the pivotal role of his team of ranchers and the bonds with our partner California farmers. From the minute our trees are planted to the time the olives are ready for harvesting, he explained our drip irrigation methods, how we plant in trellised rows planted north to south for maximum sun exposure, and how we quality check the fruit weekly starting early summer on every block of the ranches.
Brian shared the unique visual differences between each of the three varietals – from the shape of the olive to the color of the leaves – each offers their own personality into the mix of trees. Koroneiki olive’s shape is similar to that of a football with slightly pointed ends, contrasted by the oval Arbosana. Arbequina has a plump rounded shape with hues ranging from moss green to blush to light purple, all displaying various ranges of ripeness, all on one tree.
Then we moved to the mill, where we saw the raw olives unload and enter the milling process – through the washers, the hammermill, and emerging as vibrant green extra virgin olive oil. At the end of the tour we sat down with Bob Singletary, our Master Miller, and tasted five freshly milled extra virgin olive oils, each with a slight variance in color from bright green to beautiful liquid gold. Bob explained how extra virgin olive oil is evaluated from a sensory standpoint and guided our guests through the different flavor profile of each oil. Swirl, snif, slurp and swallow……all delicious and all-encompassing of each of our five senses. From mild to bold oils, he explained the unique aspects each of our Arbequina, Arbosana and Koroneiki olives offer, and how that flavor enhances the fresh ingredients we cook with every day.
Thank you to Kathryne of Cookie and Kate, Erin of Naturally Ella, Stacy of Delightful Crumb, Kelsey of Happyolks and Brenda of A Farmgirl’s Dabbles for joining us up at the ranch. We are thankful to know you, and hope you too enjoyed experiencing a little bit of California agriculture.