Bob Singletary is no stranger to olive harvests. For years, as California Olive Ranch’s master miller, he’s experienced the hard work and exhilaration that come with the fall harvest season, which runs from September through November. So, it’s a big deal when the award-winning miller declares that the 2015 California Olive Ranch harvest was, by far, the most incredible that he’s ever encountered.
“All of the stars were aligned in perfect order,” Bob says. “Without exception, all aspects of producing this year’s oil were perfect.” Not only were the stars aligned – Mother Nature also conspired to provide the perfect combination of weather and soil conditions. The result? Happy olive trees that had no trouble producing a high number of olives per acre, ones ready for transformation into fresh, fruity, and delicious oil.
“2015 was an exceptional year for olive oil quality,” adds Bob.
This year’s wildly successful olive crop is the result, in part, of a switch to harvesting in the early morning and at night, rather than during the heat of day when temperatures can reach extremes at California ranches.
“Heat is a big problem for the olives,” says Mary Bolton, California Olive Ranch’s technical services manager. “Once the olives are picked they start to degrade, and hot temperatures can escalate that degradation. If we pick at cooler temperatures, the olives maintain much better, and provide a good quality oil at milling time.” Mary’s team diligently monitors the entire harvest from harvest timing and receiving temperatures, to taste and flavor balance during the crucial milling and blending processes. The drive for top-notch olive oil leaves no room for error.
Along with rigorous attention to the harvest, Bolton and her team employ best practices, to optimize quality and flavor during the milling process. “They were on top of milling this year; working with her team was one of the many highlights of the season,” says Bob.
As a result of Bob, Mary and the team’s hard work expect a banner year for fresh, high-quality extra virgin olive oils, ready to hit a shelf near you in 2016.