We are milling great olives this year! This 2014 harvest is much better than the crop of last year, both in quality and quantity. Everyone is happier and so very proud of their fruit. This is also a very early harvest; our own olives were harvested and milled almost five weeks earlier than last year.
It is a pleasure to meet everyone that delivers olives to our mill. Most are tired from harvesting and grateful that their fruit is safely delivered. This represents a yearlong odyssey with their olives. Truly, people are passionate about their fruit. It is also interesting to see so many different types of olives and how they grow in different micro climates in Northern California. Little tiny Korineiki are dwarfed by mammoth Sevillano, along with the fat and plump Frantoio, the like I have rarely seen. Most are really healthy, well harvested, and lovely fruit. In this area, the olive fly seems not to be as devastating as last year. Although, we are still seeing some bad fly infestations from growers that are not spraying their fruit or not spraying correctly. There are great conversations at the mill about growing and how to help the trees give good fruit. We also have much celebration when oil is pouring out of the Valente centrifuge. This truly is a treasured product. I love the honor of giving growers the first taste of their oil, right out of the centrifuge. This makes everyone smile and be happy that they are in this crazy business.
Milling is a lot of work, and it takes precision
to run the equipment. It is not as simple as just turning on the machine and pushing buttons. In fact, with each delivery of olives there are discussions as to the type of grinding wheel, time of malaxation and correct malaxation temperature, centrifuge speed, and correct storage. Each olive batch is monitored for volume of olives, extraction rate, and temperature control. This data helps us learn from our hard work as how to best mill certain types of olives. We love to have discussions before milling with the growers are to their goals. The time not to have these discussions is while we are hard at work running the machines. Everyone wants to see their olives being milled, however, due to health and safety rules that is just not possible. With pre- discussions about methods of milling, both the grower and the miller can rely on each other to do their best job.
Growing olives is a passion and a lot of hard work. You cannot just sit back and watch them grow. If it isn’t spraying, it is weeding. If not weeding, it is pruning. Farming is an ongoing business. I hosted a group of 15 twelve year olds for a birthday party and tasting. What a group of interested and busy, young women. Representing women in agriculture, I hope that I captured their interest in growing. As I told them, if I don’t farm, you don’t eat. And as anyone knows, kids love to eat. It was great fun, and I hope that they recognized a little bit of the work that it takes to grow and make olive oil.
Our Olio Nuovo is now available at our Visitor Center. Come taste this beautiful new oil. This is the best of the year; fruity, pungent, fragrant and delicious. This taste is what we wait for all year long. See you at the Farm!