July 07, 2006
Estate Reserve – California State University, Fresno's first extra virgin olive oil was released at Farm Market March 9. It is the first full release from its “olives-for-oil” project launched last fall. The project operates at Fresno’s Agricultural Laboratory, the 1,053-acre University Farm on the northeast side of the campus.
Dr. John D. Welty, university president, joined Gino Favagrossa, Fresno State orchard manager, and Dr. Ganesan Srinivasan, director of the university’s farm operations, in presenting the new extra virgin olive oil. Also present was Dr. Daniel Bartell, dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology, and Dr. James Farrar, Plant Sciences Department chair.
Favagrossa said the new release is priced at $10.95 for a 500 ml vintage bottle designated with the first release year. He said the Estate Reserve is a unique “blend of Arbequina, Arbosana and Koroneiki oils; fruity with a mild pungency that leaves a pleasing, persistent taste reminiscent of green herbs, tomato and banana.”
Proceeds from olive oil sales, like all student products, help strengthen Fresno State's teaching and research program in agriculture, Dean Bartell said.
“The new olives-for-oil project contributes to Fresno State's mission in promoting world-class agriculture by researching new technologies and teaching and training our students in modern agriculture,” Bartell said.
The "olive for oil" project is conducted on a 22-acre block of super high-density plantings under the academic auspices of the university’s Plant Science Department.
The olives were mechanically harvested, then processed and bottled by the California Olive Ranch, a partner in the venture. The planting system was showcased in October when the first harvest was completed. It was the first commercial mechanical harvest of an olive plantation for oil from a super high-density planting in California’s Central Valley. Shortly after, a limited specialty release, Olio Nuovo, was pressed and made available for the holidays as an appetizer to the Estate Reserve full release.
“This is a true partnership project between industry and Fresno State to make the latest and best research and practices available to farmers,” President Welty said. “This first vintage blend of olive oil, proudly produced by our students on our farm and processed and packaged in collaboration with California Olive Ranch, Is another excellent homegrown Fresno State product.”
Srinivasan noted that the demand for olive oil has accelerated as consumers have become more aware of the health benefits and it has become a hot culinary product.
The United States imported 64.5 million gallons of olive oil in 2002, said Alan Greene of the California Olive Ranch at Fresno State’s Olive Field Day in October, while California olive oil production for 2004 was just 383,000 gallons.
“With this new technology of super high-density planting of olive trees and the right soil and climatic conditions, California could expand its acreage in olives for oil plantations and could not only satisfy the domestic market but also become a major player in the export market for extra virgin olive oil,” said Srinivasan, whose doctoral degree is in agronomy and soil science.
The Estate Reserve is available at the Fresno State Farm Market, which is open 9 a.m-5:30 p.m. Monday-Friday and 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays. For more information: Farm Market 559.278.4511, University Farm 559.278-2011