The mighty and beloved olive tree, known by the botanical name Olea Europaea, is prolific throughout the Mediterranean coast and is a staple of Mediterranean cuisine.
The olive tree was brought to California in the late 18th century, when Spanish missionaries planted olive trees at each of the 21 missions between San Diego and Sonoma. Today, olives and olive oil are prominent ingredients in California gastronomy. Several Sonoma County farms grow and mill high quality olives and produce award-winning oils; including Redwood Hill Farm ~ Capracopia.
Planting Our Olive Trees
In 2008, we were able to purchase 10 acres that bordered our farm. Among other attractions, the property offered an additional farm home, a mature rose garden, a swimming pool, and room for a diverse group of farm animals. Its neglected apple orchard inspired us to launch something new. With my Dad, Kenneth, we toured some of the area’s local olive oil producers. We were inspired by the diversity and excellence of local olives. So, we established an olive grove to cultivate this ancient and much-beloved Mediterranean fruit.
The first olive tree planting consisted of 35 trees of Tuscan olive oil varietals. We purchased them from the famed McEvoy Ranch in West Marin. Initially dominated by Frantoio and Leccino varietals, Pendolino and Maurino trees were also included to facilitate pollination. Our farm’s outstanding sandy loam Goldridge soil, sloping southeasterly sun exposure, along with goat manure compost, made ideal conditions for the growth of the nascent orchard.
Our First Olive Tree Harvest
For two years, each spring we removed the tiny olive flower buds, redirecting the tree’s energy into growing strong branches. In year three, we allowed the olive tree buds to flower. With the help of wind (not bees) for pollination – the trees bore fruit: our first crop. Olives are generally ready for harvest around Thanksgiving, just when our extended family arrives for the holidays. And so, a new tradition was born: the all-hands-on-deck family olive tree harvest! That first year, we picked 160 pounds of olives. It was enough oil to last the year in our family’s kitchens. Read about that first harvest, including olive tree pictures, at our FARM LIFE BLOG.
Hand-Picked And Locally Pressed
Building on healthy growth of our original 35 olive trees, today our olive grove includes more than 100 trees all of which are Tuscan olive oil varieties. Our olives are hand-picked by family and friends. This insures that the carefully selected fruit is of optimum quality when it arrives at the mill. Now each year as the olive harvest has grown, we are able to do a first press of the seasons bounty— “Olio Nuovo”. Learn more about our Olio Nuovo HERE.
All of our olive oils are rich and complex, with complementary fruity and peppery notes, and are delicious! Enjoy the fruits of our labor at an olive oil tasting during one of our upcoming farm tours, CLICK for details. Or, you can order online HERE.