We started picking our olives October 16th, 2014 - an all-time record early harvest for us. The Leccinos, first of our four varieties to ripen were black. Leccinos comprise 25% of our trees and this variety ripens all fruit on the tree concurrently. Maurinos, which are only 5% of our trees, ripen fruit late, so their fruit is solid green when picked. Pendolinos are mostly ripe when picked. The Frantoios, making up 60% of our trees are ½ purple and ½ green at picking time. Remember… We’re picking all these trees, which are planted together in rows in the above ratios, at the same time. When taken to the mill for milling and pressing, the blend of flavors and different ripeness of these four varieties will already be blended in the picking bins.
The dominant flavor profile is in the Frantoios, which is one of the most widely planted olives worldwide used for oil. It has a great balance of fruitiness, bitterness, and pungency. The Pendolinos are unusually sweet for an olive. So at 10% of the blend its sweetness is a counterbalance to the grassy qualities of the Frantoio. Leccinos offer sweetness and spice to the Tuscsan blends.
While most other olive growers in California are now using mechanical harvesting equipment to pick their olives, we still do it the old-fashioned way, all by hand. And, our trees are big. Most are 15-20 feet high with dense heavy growth all around the perimeter. To pick, we often have to actually cut the uppermost branches off and bring them down to harvest on the ground. So the orchard at harvest time is a scene of devastation, with just picked branches lying on the ground. The once towering trees are now slightly truncated. But we’ve got to get the olives off somehow, so we cut the highest branches down. But this is actually just a way of pruning the trees which we do anyway immediately following harvest. In two months we won’t even notice the difference. These trees love it here and their re-growth is a wonder to behold.
After hand-picking our olives, we transport them straight to McEvoy Ranch in Petaluma, CA, where they are cold-pressed in to a precious, bold-flavored, grassy oil. Our olio nuovo has now arrived at the farm and we are moving fast to get it to you as soon as possible.