Long Meadow Ranch cultivates 16 acres of Picholine, Leccino, Frantoio, Manzanilla, Maurielo, and Pendolino olive trees. Our Prato Lungo olive trees were planted by the original owner of our Mayacamas Estate, EJ Church, in the late 1800s!
We started our 2015 olive harvest in October and finished in early December. This was one of LMR’s best harvests to date with close to 40 tons of fruit. We pick approximately 70% black olives and 30% green olives, because the riper olives (black) are fruity and floral, while the green olives are a bit bitter, but contain a lot of polyphenols and help stabilize the oil.
Using handheld electric vibrating rakes, we gently shake the fruit from the tree and onto mesh tarps covering the ground below. Each “block” of trees is harvested individually, so the olives can be processed by block and blended later, much like grapes are harvested for wine.
fter the olives have fallen from the trees, we discard as many leaves and sticks from the fruit as we can by hand with a leaf blower while still in the orchard.
Right after the olives are picked, we take them to the frantoio (Italian for olive mill). We are very fortunate to have a frantoio at our Mayacamas Estate, as this contributes to the high quality of our oils--the sooner the fruit is processed after it’s picked, the better the oil.
After the olives are weighed, they are poured into the first hopper.
The fruit rides the elevator belt up 10 feet in the air, then does a free fall, allowing any leaves we missed in the orchard to be separated from the olives, before landing in a moving bath of fresh water.
After the olives are clean, they are ready for the stones. The fruit climbs the olive elevator, then they are dropped in the grinding area where the large granite milling stones are in full swing, each wheel rotating in place and moving clockwise at the same time.
The giant granite wheels weigh 2 tons each and grind the olives, including the pits, for 20 to 30 minutes.
When the olives have been thoroughly mashed and are the right consistency, we open the trapdoor under the grind stones, pushing the mash into the malixer (aka double kneader), which creates the ideal environment for the oil to separate from the mash. This process takes about 45 minutes.
Next, the olive mash is pumped into a centrifuge, which spins at 5,000RPMs,
separating the oil from everything else in the mash. We reserve the slurry of solids and
vegetable water from this process for our compost.
The oil that comes out of the centrifuge is now pumped over to the liquid phase separator for a final spin to separate out any residual particulates. What we’re left with is “olio nuovo” or new oil, which is then set aside to settle. This is a natural clarification process that allows the oil to “fall clear.” In 6 to 8 weeks, the oil is racked and any sediment is collected for soap material.
We expect 35-40 gallons of oil per ton (~2000 pounds) of olives.
After the olive oil is racked, Sean McEntire, our super talented olive oil maker, the Halls, and a team of our artisans (farmers, chefs, and winemakers) taste each barrel to determine which of our finished oil blends each will call home.
Once blending is complete, our delicious oil is ready to be bottled and hit your kitchen counter!
ARTISAN OF THE MONTH
Name: Stéphane Vivier
What is your role at Long Meadow Ranch (LMR)?
Winemaker for the LMR Anderson Valley Estate.
How long have you been with LMR?
About a year now.
What has been your favorite project at LMR?
Being able to show different expressions of the same site in the bottle. Looking at grapes from different angles and perspectives, but always trying to show focus, precision and the potential of this incredible place.
What do you wish other people knew about LMR?
Wine is just an ingredient. It is that simple and we are all here working together with the same goal of making this philosophy true at the table.
Tell us how you got into winemaking. Was it a natural fit from the start or did you take various avenues before landing in the field?
It is a long story that started with the first glass I was allowed to drink when I was 10. I grew up in Burgundy where kids are learning very young the perfumes and aromas in the cellars and kitchens, and the techniques in the vineyards. I knew I would work using my senses pretty early.
What kind of trends are you seeing in your industry?
Fewer people being patient! More people wanting more and faster.
What inspires you?
Simple concepts and elegant solutions: common sense. The most difficult thing in life is simplicity.
Best vacation you have ever taken?
First trips to Hawaii, Barolo, and Tuscany.
Red or white wine?
Bike or motorcycle?
Sushi or pizza?
iPhone or Android?
Does it matter!?
Mountains or ocean?
AT THE TABLE
4 slices of sourdough bread, toasted
2 peaches, thinly sliced
2 T honey
2 sprigs basil
Lay sliced peaches on top of toasted bread. Sprinkle torn basil over peaches and drizzle with honey. Voilà! Breakfast of champions.
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