A Look Back At Our 2011 Harvest and the Robust Olive Oil It Produced

Our fall olive harvest was filled with sunshine and long working hours, Adam Englehardt tells us. Adam heads our farming operations. He and his harvest team worked two 12-hour shifts every day, seven days a week, during the harvest. It stretched from Oct. 10 to Nov. 18. We asked Adam about the weather during the harvest, the quality of the olives, and the oil they produced.

Photo by Terry McCarthy www.tmcphotography.com

How was the weather?

We couldn’t have gotten any luckier. We had dry, mild weather throughout. It was better than previous years. No frost and no large rains that prevented us from harvesting.

We did start a little late, because the spring was cool. So the crop cycle was behind. But because the crop-load was light, we ended up harvesting it right about on time.

What was the big difference between the 2011 harvest and the 2010 harvest?

Photo by Terry McCarthy www.tmcphotography.com

There were less tons of fruit per acre than in 2010. So the olives produced an oil with a more robust flavor profile, because the flavor is concentrated in fewer olives. It’s similar to a wine grape crop when you thin the crop to allow the flavors to concentrate.

How would you characterize the differences between the three olive varietals you picked during the harvest?

The Arbequina crop was light so the fruit size was large and the fruit matured early with more intense flavors. Arbosana had a heavy year and so was late in maturing. Koroneiki was an average crop.

What do you like about this year’s Limited Reserve versus previous years?

The 2011 Limited Reserve is much more intense in flavor than the 2010, while still having a good balance.  That’s due, I think, to this year’s lighter crop. We also try to “stress” the trees going into harvest by not giving them as much water. It intensifies the flavor of the oil and also speeds the ripening process. (Adam, by the way, tells us he and his family have been enjoying Limited Reserve on simple green salads, where the flavor of the oil really stands out.)

How did the new harvesters perform that the company acquired?

Photo by Terry McCarthy www.tmcphotography.com

We’d been working on some prototypes for a couple of years. So this year we were ready to go. They performed very, very well. The new harvester was kind of the superstar of the year.  It’s built specifically for olives, and so it’s taller. It’s gentler when picking the tree. The older harvesters were retrofitted grape harvesters – the kind that vineyard operators use.

What was the first thing you did when the harvest ended?

We actually got done halfway through the day. We shaved the beards off. And then we sent the guys home for the entire weekend. It was the first day we’d had off in about four weeks. I think everyone went home and slept. People were working 14-hour days. We plan on a 12-hour shift; but we end up working a little bit longer. And then we run a day and a night shift; so it’s a 24-hour operation.

Bon appétit,

Your friends at California Olive Ranch