At the Campodonico Olive Farm, we grow, harvest, and press the fruit from nine and a half acres of Tuscan variety olives each year. Our goal is a robust, pungent and fruity oil, the perfect complement to your favorite recipe, dip, or bread. Nestled in Big Valley, an area of prized agricultural land in Lake County, California, our orchard maintains both its COOC Extra Virgin and CCOF Organic certifications, which means that we produce—from the soil to the trees and fruit—an organic, pesticide-free product and top quality oil.
We grow a mix of Coratina, Frantoio, Leccino, Moraiolo, Pendolino and Maurino to give our oil a robust but fruity flavor. We’ve chosen these varieties carefully as each plays an important role in our orchard’s ability to grow, pollinate, and bear strong fruit that yields superior flavor.
Coratina and Frantoio olives have high oil content. Coratina’s flavor is moderate in bitterness and pungency if harvested late. Frantoio oil is balanced in fruitiness, bitterness and pungency. Leccino and Maurino olives have medium oil content, with the Leccino flavor being sweet and fruity, while Moraiolo flavor is very fruity and more complex. Pendolino and Maurino are pollinators for our other varieties.
Planning our harvest
While there are many factors determining the harvest date, such as weather and harvest-crew availability, the most important factor is the olives’ ripeness. Most of the fruit is in turning purple or black when we pick it, but we do harvest a large percentage of our olives when they are still green. You can see the balance of color we like in the photo.
We harvest a mix of ripeness because green olives yield an oil with higher levels of polyphenols (antioxidants), which make for a flavor profile we like: a bitter pungency that nicely offsets the ripe, fruity taste of the darker, more ripened olives. Polyphenols are also a natural preservative, extending the shelf life of our oil.
From Fruit to Oil
We mill our fruit into oil within 24 hours of harvest to preserve maximum freshness. In addition to limiting the olives’ exposure to sunlight after picking, we strive to mill our fruit as quickly as possible for optimal flavor. Using a state-of-the-art centrifugal extraction hammer mill at a certified organic facility, our milling process ensures hygiene and purity of the oil, as well as the highest level of polyphenols from the fruit. We then store our bottled oil in a cool place, protected from light, until we deliver it to you!