Taggiasca Olive Orchard

Maybe we were bored because the initial vineyard plantings were finished in 2004. Somehow an olive orchard made sense – farmers always want to put new things in the ground. We started out by getting smart about coastal olives, working with the Santa Cruz Olive Tree Nursery www.santacruzolive.com. They became our orchard consultant and recommended Taggiasca, from the Liguria region, a very fruity variety prized throughout Italy for its exceptional flavor.

With this reason (excuse) to take a trip to Italy, we travelled to San Remo in Liguria (also known as the Italian Riviera) and fell in love with these beautiful Taggiasca olives. The Taggiasca produces a wonderful finishing oil which is fruity, peppery and bitter (all hallmarks of quality extra virgin olive oil).

We further extended this initial visit to stay with friends Harriet and Bob Sculley in Tuscany. The Sculley’s have fully renovated an 18th century farmhouse just outside the walled city of Castiglion Fiorentino. The result was conversion to a beautiful two story villa which they offer as a rental. If you are traveling to Italy, we would recommend you consider staying at this fabulous property – complete with gardens, vineyard, olive orchard and swimming pool www.ceriolo.com.

Over the period of 2004-2007 we planted three acres of the Taggiasca – about 700 trees. Olives were brined and used for tapenades until there was sufficient fruit to press for oil. The first press crop came along in 2007. Immediately after harvest, the olives travel inland to Templeton (just south of Paso Robles) to Astrid Jansen at Foxdale Farm www.foxdalefarm.com . Astrid has a state of the art milling facility and is fully committed to small production pressings for superior results.

The four-ton 2010 crop was plentiful and provided a beautiful quality EVOO which captured a Silver Medal at the California Mid-State Fair in Paso Robles. It also provided sufficient oil to try out some new things. The ultimate indulgence (besides a night of drinking 95+ point wines) is our EVOO soap! Ninety- five percent Taggiasca olive oil with essential oils. The other little addiction this excess of olives has produced is Olive Jam – made with olives, estate apples and Meyer lemon. It is extraordinarily good with sharp, hard cheeses and Bassetti Syrah!