Harvest 2012!

Wow, what a harvest it was for D’Oliva Olive Oil! The trees were looking good all summer, and as young trees we expect a steep upward curve in production in these first few years. Roy and I estimated about 1000 pounds (compared to 280 last year) and we planned accordingly.

Empty yellow lugs waiting for olives.

Gulp…we were a bit off! At the end of the day — and I mean literally the end of the day with the sun down and the temperature dropping — we had harvested over 1500 pounds! This is far beyond any expectations for a olive grove that only has 200 3-year old trees and 125 2-year old trees. And the olives looked good, with a nice blend of green and black coloring.

My daughter Rachel and I wearing our “belly buckets”

The day began with an 11 AM to 3 PM timeframe for harvesting. Our faithful crew of friends and family pushed themselves hard to get all the olives harvested, and even then we had to leave a few behind. What we thought would be a charming Prosecco sipping afternoon turned into a long work day!

But it sure was fun with a tremendous sense of accomplishment. There is something joyful about being in an orchard with your friends. We’d catch up on each others lives, sharing lots of laughter, joking with each other about overlooking a branch full of olives, and simply enjoying the outdoors. We had old friends, new friends, young friends and friends of friends. Our youngest helpers Zoey and Zeke kept everybody smiling, as they always do. Even our four legged friends Sadie and Rico ran freely (though they didn’t help a bit with the harvest). It was simply pure fun.

Zoey and Zeke helping their Mom Julie and friend Kathy.

As the sun set and the last of the olives were brought in from the grove, we handed out a few awards for closest guess to the total harvest weight. We opened the Prosecco and enjoyed Italian style appetizers as we shared stories of the day. At one point we realized we might not have room in Roy’s truck to handle all of the olives, but he was able to figure that out (thanks Hon!).

The next morning the alarm went off at 3:30 AM and we headed up to Petaluma to mill the olives. We were lucky because we were the first to arrive just before 6 AM, so our olives were the first to be milled that day. They told us there would be oil to taste in about an hour so we waited anxiously to see how it would taste. We were rewarded for the wait — our first sips were wonderful! The oil was buttery at the beginning, followed by a spark of pepper at the back. It’s too early to know how the final taste will settle in, but the start was fantastic!

Talking to the mill operator.

Now the big question was how many liters of oil would be produced from the 1500 pounds of olives. Roy guessed low at 15 gallons. I was more optimistic at 25 gallons. But once again this crop surprised us with over 38 gallons of oil! It’s a huge yield and I’m excited to have an inventory like this! It will be fun to share it and I’m thankful that we can sell much of this and offset a lot of costs.

Roy and I drove home with the “liquid gold” in the back of the truck. I pulled out my calculator and went to work on how we could possibly have harvested so much, and how it became so many gallons! Roy jokingly said something about Jesus and the loaves of bread, and it has that feel to it. The 2012 harvest has been a huge blessing and one we will remember a long long time!

Thank you all who helped out this year. Many came to help and I am thankful for you all!

Here are a few more photo highlights, with special thanks to Rachel Goble Photography for the best ones below!

The competition board.

Friends harvesting the tree as they catch up on life.

In my happy place!

Helping Julie with the harvest.

Friends and family.

Somebody had to do the heavy lifting.

At the end of the day, the harvest is huge, and ready for milling the next morning!

Fresh olive oil pouring into the D’Oliva fusti!