Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Alta Cresta Olive Orchard
The finest California Extra Virgin Olive Oil is produced at Alta Cresta Olive Orchard. The olive orchard is planted with Italian olive varietals Leccino, Coratina, Frantoio and Pendolino. These varietals were planted because the climate and soil conditions of the Paso Robles area are very similar to Tuscany, Italy and these varietals produce extra virgin olive oil that has a lot of olive fruit flavor with a peppery finish. The methods we have chosen to process our olives from harvesting, milling, storing and bottling enhance the flavors of our oils and help to maintain its freshness and healthful benefits.
Olive Oils Produced
From our four Italian olive varietals, we currently produce and sell three different 100% Extra Virgin Olive Oils:
- 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.
- 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.
Olive Harvest, Milling, Storing and Bottling
Our olives are harvested in mid November when the fruit is a mixture of black and green ripe olives. Due to the ripening pattern of the olives the Tuscan varietals are predominantly greener, while the Coratina olives consist of more black olives. Alta Cresta uses the time honored tradition of hand picking the fruit (no shaking or mechanical 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.
Harvesting of our olives starts in the early morning and the harvested fruit is taken on the same day to a local mill for processing into oil. The mill uses a state of the art closed environment stainless steel Pieralisi olive press which protects the oil from oxidization during the milling process.
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 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 oil is stored in a temperature controlled environment. Air, light and heat are the greatest enemies of olive oil and all three must be minimized during processing and until, and after, bottling.
Our oil remains stored in an ideal temperature and light controlled environment with the head space of the containers purged with inert gas until bottled. To insure freshness and quality, the oil is bottled in antique green bottles just before selling and delivery to our customers. The dark bottles aid to extend the oils shelf life and freshness by minimizing the detrimental effects of oxidization that light can promote.
Alta Cresta is Committed to Environmentally Sound Sustainable Farming Practices
Alta Cresta Orchard is concerned about the environment and is committed to sustainable farming practices. 90% of all the energy consumed on the property is generated by a Solar-Electric System. The orchard is watered at night by an automatic drip irrigation system optimized to achieve high levels of water-soil absorption with minimal evaporation. It is our belief that the olive trees will produce the highest quality fruit by cultivating them without the aid of chemical fertilizers. All of the orchard tree trimmings and green wastes are returned to the soil to replenish its nutrients.