The olive tree is native to the Mediterranean basin. Archeological evidence shows that olive oil was produced as early as 4000 BC. Besides food, olive oil was used historically for medicine, lamp fuel, soap, and skin care.
The majority of olive oil is produced in the European Union, with Spain being the largest producer of olive oil in the world, followed by Italy and Greece. In the United States, olive oil is produced in California, Arizona, Texas, Georgia, Florida, Oregon, and Hawaii.
Variety and maturation are two of the most important factors of olives that influence the quality and taste of the final olive oil. There are hundreds of varieties of olive trees. A wide range of olive varieties is used in the production of olive oil. These include Mission, Manzanillo, Sevillano, Arbequina, Koroneiki, Arbosana, Ascolano, Frantoio, Leccino, Pendolino, Maurino, and Coratina.
Olive oil production begins with harvesting the olives. Traditionally, olives were hand-picked. (We still do our harvesting by hand) Currently, large scale or “dense” harvesting is performed by a variety of types of shakers that transmit vibrations to the tree branches, causing the olives to drop into nets that have previously been placed under the tree canopy. Increasing ripeness generally increases yield in terms of release of olives from the tree branches. However, over-mature olives do not possess the best sensory qualities for oil production. Therefore, harvesting time is frequently a compromise between harvesting efficiency and final oil quality.
After harvesting, we take our olives directly to the mill; the olives are washed to remove dirt, leaves, and twigs. After the twigs are filtered out with grids, the fruit is ready for processing into oil. Fewer than 24 hours from harvest to processing produces the highest-grade oils.