Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Alta Cresta Olive Orchard
The finest California Extra Virgin Olive Oil is produced at Alta Cresta Olive Orchard estate olives "Grown Under The California Sun". Olive trees are native to areas with hot, dry summers and mild, wet winters and prefer alkaline soil conditions. We planted Italian varietals because the climate and soil conditions of the Paso Robles area are very similar to the Italian region of Tuscany.
The olive orchard is planted with Leccino, Coratina, Frantoio and Pendolino olive trees. These varietals produce extra virgin olive oil that has lots of olive fruit flavor with a peppery finish.
Alta Cresta Olive Orchard specializes in producing 100% Extra Virgin Olive Oil grown on our estate, under the California Sun. Our olive oil undergoes the rigorous testing of the California Olive Oil Council so we can provide our customers with assurance that our olive oils meet the high standards of this organization and is in fact 100% Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
The local harvest season for oil olives begins in November and can last until January. At Alta Cresta we begin our harvest in early November when the fruit is a mixture of black ripe and green ripe olives. Due to the ripening pattern of the olives the Tuscan varietals are predominantly greener, while the Coratina variety has more black olives. The Italian and Tuscan oils are bold in flavor and high in polyphenols and are classified as robust intensity olive oils. The Coratina olives create a fragrant olive oil while maintaining high levels of health-beneficial polyphenol. The Coratina olive oil is classifies as a medium intensity olive oil. Alta Cresta uses the time honored tradition of hand picking the fruit (no shaking or mecanical pickers) to protect the olives from being bruised or damaged prior to milling. Rough handling of the olive fruit can cause the fruit to bruise which promotes degradation of the fruit and lowers the quality of the oil produced.
Olive Oil Milling
Olive oil can easily take on odors and flavors from outside sources and it is important that the pressing is performed as soon as possible after harvesting in a clean and odor free environment. Our olives are harvested starting in the early morning and the harvested fruit is taken on the same day to a local mill for processing into oil. The mill where our olives are processed uses a state of the art closed environment stainless steel Pieralisi olive press which protects the oil from obtaining off flavors.
At the mill the harvested olives are first deleafed and washed prior to crushing. The Pieralisi press uses a Hammermill to quickly crush the olives into paste without damaging heat build-up. The paste is then transferred to a Malaxator where it is slowly mixed for 30 to 40 minutes to allow the oil molecules to begin to coalesce prior to final separation of the oil from the "pomace". The paste is moved to a Horizontal Centrifuge where the oil is separated from the solids. In the final step the oil and water enters a Vertical Centrifuge that separates the olive oil from the water. The separated oil flows into containers and prior to sealing the head space of the container is flushed with an inert gas to prevent oxygen contact with the oil, thus preventing the polyphenols from being reduced. The closed containers are stored in a temperature controlled environment. The olive oil must also be protected from exposure to light either by storage in metal containers or in a controlled area. Air, light and heat are the greatest enemies of olive oil and all three must be minimized during processing and until, and after, bottling.
Olive Oil Bottling
Until bottling, our oil remains stored in an ideal temperature and light controlled environment with the head space of the containers pruged with inert gas. To insure freshness and quality, the oil is bottled just before selling and delivery to our customers. Our oil is bottled in antique green bottles to extend its shelf life and freshness by minimizing the detrimental effects of oxidization that light can promote.
Olive Oils Produced
The methods that we have chosen to process our olives from the harvesting, milling, storing and bottling are all meant to enhance the flavors of our oils and help it maintain its healthful benefits. From our four Italian olive varietals, we currently produce and sell three different 100% Extra Virgin Olive Oils:
- Coratina is a single varietal made from the Coratina olive native to southern Italy. Producing olive oil that is nutty with the taste of green olive fruit and a peppery finish. Our Coratina is a medium intensity oil. It is a great substitute for butter. Try it on fresh corn on the cob or for dipping boiled shrimp.
- Tuscan Blend is made from our Frantoio, Leccino and Pendolino olive native to Tuscany. The Tuscan Blend produces olive oil that has the aroma of fresh cut grass, taste of green olive fruit and a piquant finish. Use this oil with your favorite pasta dish with hard Italian cheeses. The cheese will soften the oil, but the rich olive oil taste will prevail.
- Italian Blend is made from all four of our Italian varietals. The Italian Blend produces a medium intensity olive oil with a tantalizing aroma and a bold taste of green olive fruit. Use this oil to add zest to your salads.