Foodista recently headed down to California Olive Ranch for a visit to their olive orchards and mill during the 2012 harvest. It was a real inspiration getting to spend hours with these pioneers in the production of ultra-premium olive oils in Northern California. Combining ancient knowledge and wisdom about how to grow olives with modern technology, these passionate producers are inventing new methods that reduce the use of water, energy, and chemicals while producing some of the most flavorful olive oils on the planet. Similar to grape vines, if you make olive trees work hard to produce their fruit by planting them on poor and gravelly soil, limiting water, and making them compete for space, they will produce much more intensely concentrated flavors. This philosophy lead to one of their maxims "make the olive tree poor and it will make you rich."
We have a lot more to share from this experience, including pictures of the automated grape harvesting equipment they adapted to pick olives, but we wanted to start by introducing you to a couple of the Ranch's important characters we met on our trip. So give these videos a watch and see a bit of what we got to experience in person.
Meet Our Head Rancher
I was raised in a family as a fifth generation California farmer. What I enjoyed the most about farming I think the reason I wanted to pursue that was I like the fact that you are so tied with the outdoors, with nature, with the land. It is a feeling of making something from nothing. With the introduction of this farming model brought to the United States by the California Olive Ranch, it really was an opportunity to change how olive oil was produced. It allows us to produce olive oil at a larger scale while producing a very high quality product at a reasonable price. These trees can be very sustainably farmed and interestingly enough they can actually do better at producing a better quality oil and more of it if they are famed a little bit more sustainably. We trended that way sort of naturally and we are finding out that that is something that the consumer is responding to. Our goal is to consistently produce olives that will always produce the highest quality olive oil available to our customers every day.
Meet Miller Bob
My name is Bob Singletary and I am the master miller for California Olive Ranch. I had the perfect opportunity of working with a Greek gentleman in northern California. His family had Greek operations and grilling background. When I went to work for him, he took me under his wing and we started doing olive oil about 1984.
As head miller of the company my responsibilities are, in the production process to make sure that we get the highest quality oil possible, and that the olives are being milled and the oil is coming off the final stages, we have to taste every single batch of every single load that goes through.
I encourage everyone to try all of the different varietals and then try to find which one meets the characteristics of the oil that they like best. The everyday fresh was designed with much more of a mellow, buttery, fruity flavor profile that really helps with general American palettes, maybe for cooking. It is just a real soft mellow flavored olive oil.
The Millers blend was an interesting concept that goes back to ,e starting with California Olive Ranch because of the three oils we produce, you are selecting the best of the best of all of the profiles and trying to blend that into one very complex, very uniform flavored olive oil with all of the attributes of the oil.
The excitement that I get every day when I come to work, it never goes away, never changes.
Disclosure: Foodista's travel expenses were generously paid for by California Olive Ranch.