“The farmer has to be an optimist or he wouldn’t still be a farmer.” - Will Rogers

An interesting thing about olive farming is that it changes on a daily basis. When it comes to olives, winter is harvest season and the length of the harvesting process varies every year.

While extra virgin olive oil is incredibly good for you, the process of obtaining it can take a bit of discipline. PURA GROVE’s eight-person harvesting team assembles at 630am to begin their workday. At this early hour, “it’s freezing,” says PURA GROVE manager Ed Gonzalez. 

“ Due to the terrain, the crew tries to start olive picking at a higher altitude where the sun hits,” Ed explains. “Then they’ll work their way down and by the time they get there, it’s warmer.”

On the upside, mornings are beautiful and misty. There is fog along the lower

creek, and the grass is coated with frost. The olives expand over an area of appx 65 acres, so the team can enjoy different scenic vantage points as they work. 

The temperature drops again in the evening, as the milling of the olives continues into the night. This is the process of converting olives into olive oil, and it requires only two people – one to load the crusher and the other to monitor timings. The three-stage process can take a few hours, or it can last until midnight. 

“It can get very, very, very cold,” after dark, Ed notes. “You have to wear warm clothes.”

This year, harvest season stretched out over a period of three months.  “We started on October 16th and finished on January 16th,“ says Ed..”This is longer than usual.”

He attributes the delay to the fruit being a bit late, and to weather conditions impacting the yield.

What the weather did not affect was the excellent quality of the oil. 

“We’re organic,” says Ed. “We have a very unique way of producing olive oil. Even though it’s more labor-intensive, we go from harvesting the olives to processing them immediately.”

“We don’t store anything,” he explains. “because the longer olives sit after being cut from the tree, the more they lose nutrients and benefits”. 

By contrast, Ed says proudly, “Our olive oil is so fresh and rich with flavors!”