November is an exciting time of year around here! Our crop has been bountiful and fresh oil is a-flowin'. Every year, our visitors are blown away as they learn about our hands-on production process - from hand harvesting each tree to milling every olive. It's definitely a lot of work, but it's a labor of love.
I sat down with owner and Masterblender, Perry Rea, to answer some questions and give us a peek into our 2016 Harvest. Don't forget to check out the video at the bottom!
Which varieties of olives are you harvesting?
Perry: We have a lot of Mission olives planted in the grove right now that are ready for harvest. The Missions are our primary variety since they grow well in our climate. We're also pressing some Moraiolo, Frantoio, Manzi, Arbequina and Coratina [olives] right now. Our EVOO is a blend of different olives, it's not a single variety oil, that's why we're pressing differenlt varieties.
Where are they from?
Perry: All the olives I mentioned previously are estate olives right from our grove, except for the Arbequinas - those are from our partner groves located in Yuma, Arizona. We're getting a big delivery of Arbequinas this week which will give us some great oil!
What type of oil are you pressing right now?
Perry: It's still considered 'early' in the harvest season - our olives have been taking a little longer than usual to ripen. So right now, we are pressing Early Harvest EVOO - which will give us a very grassy, peppery, herbaceous oil and will ultimately be bottled as our Robust EVOO. As it gets later into the season, the olives will become more ripe. Our late harvest production will give us our lighter, fruitier Delicate EVOO.
What do you do with the olive by-product?
Perry: Great question! The olive by-product is known as Pomace which is the pulpy residue remaining after fruit has been crushed. We compost the pomace or use it on our roads to keep the dirt down.
After the oil's pressed, how do you store it?
Perry: We store our fresh pressed EVOO in oxygen-free, stainless steel tanks made specifically for optimal olive oil storage that are located on-site.
When can we get our hands on the New Oil (Olio Nuovo)?
Perry: After the tanks, the olive oil goes directly into the bottle and onto the shelves of our retail stores [and the virtual shelves at queencreekolivemill.com]. This happens sometime in the beginning of January. We had a really good crop this year, and our olives were beautiful and plentiful! I'm really looking forward to our Olio Nuovo!
Take a peak into our 2016 Harvest: