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December Olive Harvest, Our First Extra Virgin Olive Oil from the Estate

It has been a long time since the grape harvest (so it seems). So much happened at the end that we were sent into a frenzy like none other and tested and tried as fairly new vineyard owners, but we survived! And today Phillip is enjoying a day in the winery tasting the 2009 and 2010 wines in every barrel…a staggering amount of wine (no pun intended–but someone has to do it).

One more surprise for the estate annals of 2010: an incredible olive harvest! If you’ll remember the minimal crop we had in 2009, (read here to refresh your memory) we weren’t expecting much from our 540 trees this year. It is an interesting activity, estimating a crop load on trees. Based on the two previous years of 120 pounds a year, Phillip estimated about 1/2 ton of olives for 2010. We bought a “hobby” home press with every intention of pressing slowly, day-by-day, varietal-by-varietal until we actually got down to it and realized this would take all year! (This press is now FOR SALE!, it processes 30 lbs/hour and is perfect if you have 2 or 3 trees…not 540!)

We tremendously enjoyed the slow pace while it lasted and tasting each tree’s oil (we have 8 Spanish varietals planted, they all yield different crop loads, size of olives and flavors–just like wine grapes). We relented, but happily called in professional pickers. Over 2 days and 30 workers, our trees gave us 2 1/2 tons of olives! (NOT 1/2 ton as estimated.) Thankfully, we have good friends in the olive business who also have 10 acres of trees farmed organically, and we were able to piggy-back onto their pressing (thank you Jerry and Carolyn Shaeffer @ Rancho Rendezvous Farms in Paso Robles).

New to the Paso area is Mill on Wheels, a mobile mill equipped to process fruit from start to finish: olives to oil, right there at your estate! It is run by Yves and Clotilde of Olea Farm, veteran olive oil producers in Templeton. Yves was a saint, pressing our olives well into the dark hours of the night and keeping our varietals different so we could have 4 different blends, all showcasing incredible flavors and attributes. His niece is chef at Thomas Hill Organics and she had raved to him about our natural wines, and by good fortune we had some with us at the press and all were sustained, keeping us happy (and well lubricated) while working.

The olive harvest yielded 100 gallons of beautiful dry-farmed, Biodynamic extra virgin Olive Oil. It was an exceptional morning after the press: for breakfast we shared homemade bread, drizzled with our estate olive oil and a perfectly poached egg from our chickens. We relished in our bounty, in that moment: all seemed to be complete, harmonious and isn’t-this-really-what-it’s-all-about filled our souls and our bellies and our minds.

We hoped to get some oil in bottles and labeled for our good customers to buy and give as gifts over Christmas. It didn’t happen, we went on vacation instead. However, everyone that has visited in the last month has tasted, raved and purchased oil that we’ve filled for them. We should get our labels this week and move forward. It is available for sale! Right now the oil is green, slightly cloudy, sharp, full of health and incredibly tasty (go here for interesting olive harvesting/timing information).

For Sale at the Winery:
250 ml, $16.95
375 ml, $22.50
750 ml, $35.00

**Bring your own containers and we’ll fill them up for $40 a liter!

Liquid gold, that is the best descriptor of such a wonder.