April 03, 2004
Held on Sunday, March 28, 2004 from 1 PM-430 PM in Hopland (Mendocino county), the seminar featured farm advisor and olive oil production expert Paul Vossen as the keynote speaker. The purpose was to educate Mendocino olive growers and introduce them to the California Olive Oil Council (COOC).
Bruce Golino, COOC president first spoke briefly about the council and its activities. After a recent retreat, board members came up with three new objectives: build membership through regional meetings, increase recognition of the COOC seal, and to gather information using funds provided by a recent USDA grant to develop a marketing plan for California Olive Oil Producers. The council is also working to change federal grade standards on olive oil to align them with the rest of the world and is trying to defend against misuse of the regional and California name.
Paul Vossen then presented a slide show of his recent year in Spain immersed in the culture and the olive oil business. He used the trip as a vehicle to give a broad overview of the olive oil industry. Four olive oils were tasted during the talk to illuminate points.
Paul Vossen in Spanish Attire
Paul concentrated on the intensive plantings now going in with 5 x 13 foot spacing and up to 800 trees per acre. Quick and infrequent pruning is done on large wood with hand saws or chain saws. Over the row pickers mechanize the harvest and work best with varieties such as Arbequina, Arbosana and Koroneiki which fruit every year and don't become overly vegetative with intensive cultivation. In the fifth year after planting yields of 5 tons per acre are expected
Mills in Spain are the most modern of any nation. The newer 2 phase decanters minimize water disposal problems and several of the mills pictured burned the pomace for cogeneration or used it for compost or animal feed.
After a wine and tapas break, seminar attendees were invited to question a panel of grower/producer experts: Sue Ellery, grower and olive oil producer, Shari De Joseph, orchard manager at McEvoy Ranch, John Hadley, orchard Manager at Jordan Vineyards and Nick Oliver, Mendocino County Agricultural Departments. Questions covered everything from soil amendments to the olive fly.
Executive Director Patricia Darragh reported that several new COOC members signed up at the event.