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Olive Harvesting: A Thanksgiving Family Tradition

bottles of the 2017 Capracopia Olio Nuovo from the olive harvestOnce again we’ve pressed beautiful, delicious extra virgin olive oil from last fall’s harvest of our Tuscan variety olive grove. Each time I enjoy it over fresh greens or just enjoy by dipping with homemade bread, I’m reminded of that harvest weekend. We had lots of family help, again, and help from a new harvest aid. Here are some details and photos…

our 2017 olive harvest family picture2017 was our 4th full harvest and picking went about as usual compared to the past few seasons. We were lucky to have our dad and co-founder of the farm Ken Bice, here on harvest weekend. Cristi’s mom, Gloria was also here from the beautiful Garden Isle, Kauai, Hawaii. I could not pass up the opportunity to capture images of three generations of the Bice family working together on the farm!

October was warmer than normal here in Sonoma County, which made the olive fruit change to purple earlier than previous years. We actually harvested twice, with the main harvest at the end of October being the earliest we have had since the grove began producing over 5 years ago.

Buckets of olives awaiting the press during our olive harvestWe finished picking again just after Thanksgiving, and the harvest was completed. The second harvest consisted mainly of our Frantaio variety olives as they do traditionally ripen a bit later than the other Tuscan varieties we grow for our Capracopia Tuscan Varietal Oil.

This year we used our “olive catching hammock” for the first time, which Scott said helped in our hand picking system.

The Bice family working together to bring in the olive harvestWe began by raking the olives off the tree with our hands and letting them fall onto the canvas of the hammock.

Next, at certain points we pulled up the small velcro cover in the center to let the olives fall into the bucket—simple and efficient.

Mother and son working together during the olive harvest at Redwood Hill FarmWe could not have asked for a more gorgeous late fall day for the second harvest, the sun warming our fingers as we worked together picking and sorting over the new hammock and filling bucket after bucket.

After delivering the harvest to local Sebastopol olive press, Olive Leaf Hills, we were returned seven gallons of olive oil from the first picking and two additional gallons from the second. Overall this yield was down slightly compared to 2016, but we know that with farming, no two years are ever the same.

It was nice having the early harvest for the Olio-Nuovo it produced, and available just in time for our final farm tours of the season! The fresh olive oil was green, with grassy, pungent notes resulting in a special Extra Virgin oil high in polyphenols. We’ve found the Olio Nuovo excellent as a dipping oil paired with rustic, artisan breads as well as splashed liberally on fresh greens and finished with balsamic vinegar.

You can purchase Capracopia Olive Oil on the farm during our upcoming tour season, click here for the more information and this seasons tour dates. We also have a limited amount of oil from the harvest to ship. If you would like a bottle or two for your pantry or a friend’s, simply send us an email and we will contact you with details and shipping arrangements.