July 31, 2004
Figueroa Farms in Santa Ynez hosted the California Olive Oil Council's (COOC) Southern California regional meeting this June. The council is soliciting members from this burgeoning olive growing area above Los Angeles. Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties are becoming important wine growing areas and as with other wine growing regions in California, olive orchards have followed. Santa Ynez is near the tourist town of Solvang, with a climate tempered by coastal breezes. The area is also famous for horse breeding
Superb weather in Santa Ynez
There was a good turnout to hear an afternoon lineup of speakers. Steve Pepe of Clos Pepe Vineyards introduced COOC president Bruce Golino who gave an update on efforts to create new labeling standards through the USDA and other COOC initiatives. Paul Vossen, U.C. extension Farm adviser, presented a primer on growing olives. He was available afterward for individual consultation with area growers.
Networking before the COOC presentation
Figueroa Farms owners Shawn and Antoinette Addison gave a multimedia presentation on the Chemical Evaluation of olive oil. Using their state of the art Pieralisi Genius system, Figueroa Farms produced some excellent oils this past year. Using in-house acidity and peroxide testing, Shawn and Antoinette have been able to optimize their milling for each varietal and level of ripeness. Some of the oils milled went on to win awards at the Los Angeles County fair. In an interesting experiment, identical samples were sent to several commercial labs in California with widely varying acidity results. Antoinette discussed how lab policy, reagent choice and rounding came up with liberal or conservative acidity levels. Producers were very interested in any way to optimize their figures now that they are being used for COOC certification and bragging rights on labels. Shawn gave tours of the mill to small groups after the presentation.
Shawn Addison Explains the mill
Karen Guth of Willow Creek Olive Ranch directed an olive oil tasting featuring oils from the Santa Barbara area. Lauren and Richard Cundiff of the Los Olivos Trading Co. provided a sumptuous spread of breads and cheese with wine from local producers.
The COOC is planning a similar event in San Diego on Saturday, September 18, 2004 at Bernardo Winery. See the Events section.
For more information about the COOC go to www.cooc.com. For information about milling olives at Figueroa Farms, go to www.figueroafarms.com.