The Making of EVOO


Each year we har­vest our olives from 175 trees grown on our estate, making small batches of Extra Vir­gin Olive Oil.  There are a wide range of olive varietals grown, and each imparts its own unique fla­vors to an olive oil blend.  All 6 vari­etals that we have are either blend­ed togeth­er or field blended.  Ideally, you want award-winning olive oil to have a balance of fruity, bitter, pungency, and but­tery texture - per­fect for cook­ing, finishing or even dip­ping your favorite crusty bread!  Yet, have you wondered what's really involved to produce this finished product?  As you will see, it's a product of timing, dedication & love!




How do we know when it's the best time to harvest?  That's the golden question, for liquid gold that is!  Typically, you don't want to pick too early because oil content is low, and flavors are not fully developed.  Conversely, if you're too late then you'll risk having significant loss of freshness.  Incidentally, the purple color of the olive does not tell the whole story either.  So desired ripeness must be manually & visually calculated using a Maturity Index.  Starting in October, we'll begin random sample inspections.  We look for an average in the samples that we test to be around #4 on the index chart to determine the best time.  The flesh turns white, and when squeezed you'll get a milky, oily fluid.  We usually gear up for olive har­vest around the first few weeks of November because that's when our Tuscan varietals tend to peak.    



The saying goes, 'you can't make quality olive oil with bad quality olives'.  That's why it's imperative to be proactive, and that starts in the field from start to the finish.

Harvesting begins early in the morning when it's cool to mitigate any temperature issues. 

Each olive tree is har­vest­ed by hand.  To minimize fruit damage, we have a unique unit called the OlivSpeed harvester (inverted umbrella catcher net) that goes around the tree.  This is a much better method to the traditional laying down of nets where the olives can get stepped on and crushed when picking.  We then use olive rakes (manual and rotating), running them through the branch­es.  The olive rake is designed to knock olives off the tree that will then get caught by the umbrella and fall safely down into a catch trap.  Once again, breaking the skins gets avoided.  This is very important because olives oxi­dize rapidly if dam­aged, and this is detri­men­tal to fla­vor and it also starts the breakdown of antiox­i­dants (polyphenols) - the main health ben­e­fit of olive oil.  The olives are then col­lect­ed in bins and trans­port­ed to the mill.  



Now that we've done our part in growing & harvesting with the best practices possible, the rest of the magic really happens by professional millers' Mill on Wheels

The olives are processed as quickly as possible (within 24 to 48 hours after harvesttime).  There are 5 main stages to the process: 

  1. Deleafing & Wash­ing –  The olives are sort­ed and sep­a­rat­ed from leaves, twigs, stems and oth­er debris.  They are then washed to remove dirt.
  2. Milling / Crush­ing –  This step involves crush­ing the olives into a paste. While the olives are crushed, the fruit cells tear which facil­i­tates the release of tiny oil droplets.
  3. Malaxing –  This process brings all of the tiny olive oil droplets togeth­er com­bin­ing them into big­ger drops (also called coalescence of emulsion).  The creation of perfumes & aromas begins here, but they can also be lost here.  That's why the olive paste is mixed no more that 20 minutes, and temperature control is critical at this stage (staying under 82F).    
  4. Decanter Extract­ion –  The oil is sep­a­rat­ed from the rest of the olive solids (pomace) by 2 or 3 phase cen­trifu­ga­tion.  The oil that comes out of the first cen­trifuge is further processed in a sec­ond, faster-rotat­ing cen­trifuge to elim­i­nate any remain­ing water and solids.  Filtration is the final step. 
  5. Storage & Bottling –  Now the oil is trans­ferred into stain­less steel drums, topped with Argon gas (to seal for freshness) where it can then be bottled using the same process.


To be labeled Extra Virgin, olive oil must be "first press".  This means being unadulterated, made without using chemicals, and with very little to no heat.  Testing is done by means of a chemistry analysis panel. Samples are sent to a lab to be tested for Free Fatty Acidity, Peroxide, UV Analysis parameters based on USDA standards.


YOU & THE 4 S's 

Now it's in your hands.  It's time to go olive tasting.  Don't worry, you don't have to be an expert, but you can act like one!  The best way to discover an oil’s flavor is to sip it “neat” - meaning on its own without bread or other food.  This will allow you to savor the oil’s flavor without distraction.  But you are welcome to use bread if you wish!

  • SWIRL - This releases the oil’s aroma molecules. 
  • SNIFF - Inhale from the rim of the glass.  What initial notes of the intensity and the aroma did you detect?
  • SLURP - Take a small sip of the oil while also sipping in some air.  This action helps to spread it throughout your mouth.  Note the aromas as well as the intensity of bitterness.
  • SWALLOW - An oil’s pungency is judged by a sensation in your throat.  If the oil makes you want to cough, it is a pungent oil.

What ATTRIBUTES did you recognize?  As mentioned in the beginning, a balance of 4 basic profile categories is desired to make award winning oil:

FRUITY which refers to the aroma of fresh, undamaged olive fruit that is perceived through the nostrils.
BITTERNESS which is a primary flavor component of fresh olives perceived on the tongue.
PUNGENCY which is the biting sensation noticed in one’s throat. Sometimes oils are referred to as one or two “coughers”.
DESCRIPTORS which is descriptive language to depict the oil’s aroma and flavor. This is subjective and therefore not scientific.

To help narrow down more profile attributes & descriptive flavors, we have provided the following sensory wheels:



It is our hope and goal to produce deli­cious extra vir­gin olive oil from year-to-year! 

There are many nuances of flavors to be found.  Now that you've learned the many aspects of making Extra Virgin Olive Oil, we are confident that you will fully appreciate this ancient "juice of the olive".  So armed with this knowledge, here's to your new sensory adventure. Enjoy the discovery! 

The Partridge Family