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Our Groves

Our Stonehouse Organic Estate Oil Comes from olives grown on the Milner Ranch in Winters, California.

In 2008 the Milner family (James, Rita and Sydney) started their grove with an initial planting of 450 Leccino and Maurino olive trees, on 10 acres in Winters, California. In 2010, to round out the blend, they added about 50 Coratina.  The grove is pruned by hand, tree by tree. Large estates mechanically prune with big equipment that often damages the trees, and cannot achieve the same perfect canopy that hand-pruning allows.

The olives are also harvested by hand, to insures no bruising.  Larger estates mechanically harvest, which has a greater instance of damaging the trees and bruising the fruit.  Olives are drupes-- stone fruit, like peaches and nectarines-- and begin to rot quickly when damaged, especially in the heat, which is why they need to be harvested without bruising and milled within 24 hours.  Olives from the Milner Ranch are hand picked in the morning and milled in the afternoon, within 12 hours.  At each step of the way, from organic farming practices to pruning, picking, and milling, the olives that comprise our Stonehouse Organic Estate Blend receive the best possible care.  It is no wonder that this oil is some of the best California extra virgin olive oil we have ever made, with a fresh, just-cut-grass bouquet, a rich, sweet flavor--with a gorgeous, subtle cherry note-- luscious mouthfeel, and a bit of piquancy, to let you know it's full of polyphenols. This is a special oil for finishing greens, vegetables, main courses, and for dipping with fresh bread, not to be cooked with!  At Stonehouse, while we strive to offer the best quality evoo at a reasonable price with our Stonehouse House Blend and Olio Santo, we offer our Estate Oil for that special dish, ocassion, or gift. 

Our farming methods on the Milner Ranch are strictly organic, and certified each year by Yolo Certified Organic Agriculture, and the oil consistently receives an Extra Virgin certification annually from the California Olive Oil Council (COOC). We have won gold and silver medals from the Napa Valley Olive Oil Competition, the California Olive Oil Council, and this year, 2018, the California State Fair.

 

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Our Organic Reserve Extra Virgin Olive Oil is made from olives grown on the Talcott Ranch in the Carneros region of Napa Valley, California.

Approximately twenty years ago, 1500 olive trees were imported from Tuscany and planted in St Helena. 3000 cuttings from these trees were planted on our Carneros Property 15 years ago, in 2003. There are 6 different varieties, Frantoio being the most numerous.

Over the past two years we have been able to improve our water availability with deep water irrigators on each tree, and this should help stabilize crop load and the inherent alternate fruit bearing character of the olive tree, as the grove had been dry farmed from 2003 until 2015, which placed a good deal of stress on the trees and resulted in low crop yields.
 
The major costs in producing olive oil are pruning, harvesting and milling. We continue to reduce pruning costs by using hand held gas powered equipment and moving through the grove on elevated platforms. Improvements are made daily and often with each pass.
 
A significant advancement in harvesting has been made with the acquisition of INFACO electric olive rakes. The lithium batteries operate for 10 hours at a time. The eliptical motion of the rake heads drop the fruit downward to the nets rather than scattering the fruit laterally. 
 
Overall the continued production of a superior Tuscan (robust) olive oil is moving in a positive direction. Our Organic Reserve evoo is the boldest oil we offer--grassy, a bit bitter (in a good way) with a polyphenol-packed kick of pungency in the back of the throat that lets you know the olives are harvested green and crushed promptly.  This oil is for those who love a good, strong oil that takes no prisoners!  As a gift, it's sure to impress that foodie friend who loves a good find.

 

 

 

 

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