An Interview With D’Oliva’s Founder

We sat down with D’Aun Goble, the founder of D’Oliva, to hear a bit more about the brains (and beauty!) behind this delicious olive oil.
What was your inspiration to start a boutique Olive Oil brand?
“I wanted to do a ‘reinvent’ once my kids were grown.  We had the land available at our family ranch, and I love things that bring together hard work, friends, and good food.  After several years of weekend study at the Mondavi Institute’s UC Davis Olive Center, it was time to just take the plunge.”
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Why did you choose to plant the varietals that you did?

“There are six Tuscan varietals planted at D’Oliva. We intentionally chose these six because of the flavor profile they would create when blended together, resulting in an intense yet balanced olive oil. With the goal of pairing great olive oil with great food, D’Oliva has succeeded beautifully and I’m really pleased.”

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Tell us a little about the Goble Ranch, where D’Oliva Olive Oil is grown. 

“The D’Oliva Olive Oil orchard is situated on a family ranch in the small community of Sunol in Northern California. The 120-acre property has most recently been used for cattle and horses, though there are signs that it was terraced and farmed for grapes in the 19th Century.

The climate is much like Tuscany, with warm summers and cool winters, and the property is just far enough from the ocean to avoid consistent fog. The trees are planted on generous 18 foot centers to allow maximum lateral growth in the years ahead. Drip irrigation is used in the dry months of summer and fall and about 14” of rain falls in the winter (when it’s not a drought year!). Weeds are hand pulled, mowed or plowed in the spring. An 8 foot fence keeps the deer from munching on the trees, barn owls are beginning to occupy our beautiful owl boxes, and Killdeer Plover love to lay their eggs at the base of our trees in the spring. It’s a nice community of critters sharing in our land.”

What sets D’Oliva Olive Oil apart from other EVOO oils?
“We are fortunate to have wonderful quality olive oils in California. Unfortunately there are also many oils that claim quality, both in California and around the world, that just aren’t. We take a different approach and share the entire experience so you know exactly how the olives were grown, harvested, milled into oil, then bottled. Our aim is to have integrity in the entire process, and we share a little bit of ourselves in every bottle we make.”
What are some of the hardships you face during the year?
“The olive fruit fly is one of the worst problems and olive groves around the world are dealing with this pest. We are being vigilant to make sure they don’t destroy this year’s crop by monitoring the influx and spraying (with a pretty affective organic product) weekly.  Other than that, critters like gophers, squirrels and moles are determined to dig as many tunnels as they possibly can. Our ranch is often windy (which makes for a nice breeze when working), so keeping the trees staked well and maintaining a balanced canopy can be a challenge.”
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Will D’Oliva ever lose it’s boutique feel?
“Not a chance! With only 325 trees we are one of the smallest growers in California.  Our young trees have been great producers, but we will never have a warehouse full of oil.  And because the trees were planted on 18′ centers, hand harvesting will always be our only option (which also makes for a great harvest party!).”
What are your favorite recipe’s to use with D’Oliva Olive Oil?
“My go-to will always be as a salad dressing.  My favorite dressing includes D’Oliva Olive Oil, a quality flavored vinegar (pear chardonnay, fig balsamic, pomegranate vinegar…whatever works with my ingredients) and a good French sea salt. I also love using D’Oliva as a finish on a good steak, with garden fresh tomatoes and basil, with grilled vegetables, or in a savory cake.”
To order D’Oliva Olive Oil please check out our online order form. An online store is in the works and will be released later this year. Make sure to get the delicious 2013 harvest before it runs out!

Olive Oil Makes You Happy!

Everybody can use a little more happiness in their life. As it turns out, research is now showing that olive oil can help!

The SUN Project in Spain has finalized studies that show a healthy Mediterranean diet can impact not only physical health (which seems obvious) but also our mental health.

Here’s an article published by the good folks at the Olive Oil Source that goes into more detail about the findings: Olive Oil Makes You Happy. It’s not only encouraging, it’s logical…two things that are not always consistent in long term research reports!

So any way you look at it, we need more extra virgin olive oil in our diets. Eat well, and be happy!

D'Aun in a happy place -- the orchard!

Our First Harvest!

When we planted the first 200 trees in October 2009, the experts and consultants all told us that our first harvest would be 2-3 years away.  Perhaps even four years.

But nobody counted on the perfect growing season of 2010, or the significant rainfall, or the cyclical nature of olives that produce in massive abundance from time to time.  Or the overexcitement of new farmers!  All of that came together in an unexpected way, and suddenly we have a harvest.  A small harvest, of course, but a harvest nonetheless!

The day of the harvest began with a challenge:  who could most accurately guess the number of pounds we would harvest?   Ever the optimist, I wrote 300 lbs onto the white board as my guess.  Attempting to balance the high guess with a low one, Roy wrote 90 lbs onto the whiteboard.  That became the high and low ends of the estimates, and others chose numbers in between.

A dozen eager volunteers arrived on a cool overcast day.  Each of us put on cotton gloves and rubber boots, a few wore a belly bucket, and others carried a yellow plastic lug into the orchard.  With the trees still small it was an easy process to harvest the olives, and the entire job was done in about 45-minutes.

As we brought the olives together into a single lug, it became apparent that we had all overestimated this first harvest.  Even the low guess was wildly high.  A total of 25 lbs was harvested this year.  We jokingly sent people back into the orchard; there had to be more!  Folks were laughing as we picked one or two stray olives off an otherwise bare tree.  In the end, it was still 25 lbs of olives.  Perhaps that’s a bit disappointing, but then again we were excited to have anything at all this first year.

By mid-afternoon we had the Prosecco open and bruschetta served.  As with all good D’Oliva parties, we spent more time eating, drinking and talking than we did working!

The following morning Roy and I awoke early and headed to The Olive Press in Sonoma.  We met our consultant, Sean, who had harvested his trees the day before as well.  Joking that we needed him to bring the forklift over to pick up our olives, we ceremoniously added our small harvest to his larger haul.

D'Oliva olives mixed with Sean's harvest.

There were the usual hiccups and problems with milling, but it was fun to watch as the olives went through the elaborate process and became beautiful golden green oil.  Sean was nice enough to sell us 5-gallons of the oil (our 25 lbs of olives would have only produced about a quart).  As we headed away from the mill, Roy quipped that if we could find a way to scale the turning of 25-lbs of olives into 5 gallons of oil, we might actually make this business profitable!

Our 5-gallons being sealed and marked.

The first harvest was small, but it taught us a lot about olive farming.  Just going through the process was great and will help us prepare for the larger scale harvests of the future.  Plus we get to bottle some of the 5-gallons we brought home from the mill, which means I can experiment with labels and bottles.  All of it is a learning process — and so far, all of it is a great deal of fun!

Thanks to everybody who helped!