Olive Oil Primer: A Look at the Koroneiki Olive

Little olives can deliver a potently spicy punch. That’s the case with our Koroneiki olive, one of the olive varietals we grow in northern California. Koroneiki hails from Greece, and it’s become popular among Golden State olive growers. I rate the robustness of our extra virgin olive oils by how many times people cough when they swallow the oil at a tasting. Our Koroneiki EVOO is a “two or three cougher.”

It delivers a deliciously robust flavor, and finishes with a pleasant, peppery zing in the throat. Koroneiki oil, which we blend into our other oils, is the most pungent EVOO we produce. We hold EVOO tastings for chefs and other people and, sure enough, our Koroneiki has people clearing their throats.

In addition to a fruity nose and a strong, peppery finish, our Koroneiki is characterized by aromas of fresh grass and artichokes. Our miller Bob Singletary says the complexity of Koroneiki makes it a favorite of people who enjoy a Tuscan-style flavor profile.

We have some 10,000 acres of olive trees under cultivation in northern California. They produce Koroneiki as well as two Spanish varietals: Arbequina and Arbosana. Arbequina accounts for about 70% of our olives and Arbosana 20%. Koroneiki represents the remaining 10% of the olives we harvest using a system known as “super high-density” (SHD) planting.

Koroneiki also happens to be the third largest olive varietal grown in California. A recent report from the Olive Center at the University of California, Davis, finds that Koroneiki accounts for 6% percent of California’s SHD acreage, or 681 acres.

Unlike Arbequina and Arbosana, we don’t bottle our Koroneiki oil as a single varietal extra virgin olive oil. Instead, virtually all the EVOOs we make get a “shot” of Koroneiki, such as our Miller’s Blend and Everyday California EVOO. (One exception: If we bottle something as “Arbequina” — meaning there’s only Arbequina in the oil — then there’s no Koroneiki in that product.)

Blending Koroneiki into our other EVOOs “kicks up” an oil’s flavor and fruitiness, giving the oil a better and more complex taste.

The Koroneiki olive tree has grown in Greece for more than 3,000 years. It’s cultivated there to produce oil. The tree is a prolific olive producer.

In addition to pungency, the little Koroneiki olive delivers a healthful punch. It has a very high level of polyphenols, the chemical substances found in plants that may reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer.

Bon appétit,

Claude S. Weiller
Vice President of Sales & Marketing
California Olive Ranch