With the olive harvest nearly upon us, it’s an exciting time to be at McEvoy Ranch.
We harvest seven different Italian olive varieties here. This not only optimizes the flavors in our Traditional Blend Olive Oil but helps spread out harvest timing. Some are early ripening, some later.
The ridge locations where the majority of the trees are planted get more sun and have well-drained soil so the olives there are picked first. The ones on the basin floor between the ridges are picked later. Moraiolo and Coratina are always picked last.
Right now the fruit on the trees is generating oil. We are maintaining irrigation to ensure the trees have everything they need to achieve the highest oil content. The 2017 growing season had heavy rains at the start and heat spikes in early fall. Compared to last year when we had non-stop rain in October! The expectation is that this year’s harvest will be rich with concentrated flavors.
Unlike our grapes, there is no tasting of olives on the tree. We walk the orchard and test by hand to feel the water and oil development. We call this the “squish factor.” How palpable it is between your fingers gives insight into the fruit ripeness and maturation. We also conduct lab testing to measure moisture, oil, and solid content. The two processes together leads us to determine the optimum time to begin harvesting.
Ria D’Aversa, our Farming Manager, says the “the most fun part is finally seeing the fruit come off the trees. The year’s work is captured at that moment. Everyone is exhausted from the long days, but the reward is tremendous.”
Ria and her crew estimate they’ll begin harvesting mid-November for our Olio Nuovo bottling. That is the first pick with the olives going straight to our on-site mill for processing, and then bottled immediately. This fresh olive oil will be ready in December for a limited time.