September 08, 2003
The Planting Olive Trees/Olive Oil appreciation class at Napa Valley College-Upper Valley Campus in St. Helena last month attended by a sold out crowd. Dennis Black, Vice President of Novavine Grapevine Nursery and the facilitator of the day long class welcomed the group, which included several students representing wineries that were featured in the June 15 edition of Wine Spectator, highlighting “California’s New Olive Oils”. The history of the olive tree was described as well as how the olive oil industry has made a full circle in California, with the success of many olive oil brands in Napa and Sonoma counties.
Bill Wolf, Board of Directors, California Olive Oil Council (COOC) discussed the olive fruit fly and the latest methods to help olive tree growers. He also answered questions concerning the reinstatement of Section 18 for GF-120 (Spinosad), and made himself available to help any of the group in attendance with their future concerns.
The afternoon got off to a great start with Marvin Martin, author, lecturer, and chef to several wineries in the Napa Valley. Marvin discussed the different uses of olive oil in cooking, to include his recipe for olive oil ice cream (Wine Country Living April 2003). Marvin’s own olive oil (Oliodessa Olive Oil) recently won a gold in the Los Angeles County Fair. He shared the experience of making olive oil with the students in the class.
The final part of the afternoon was with Dr. Roberto Zecca, past president of the California Olive Oil Council and current tasting panel leader, who explained the terminology and the olive oil assessment profile sheet used by the International Olive Oil Council and adopted by the COOC. Dr. Zecca’s Frantoio-Zedez, Estate, Green Label also won a gold medal at the L.A. County Fair. Six different types of olive oil were poured into blue glasses for the students to learn how to differentiate the different characteristics of the oil (both perceptions of defects and positive attributes). Dr. Zecca explained how to taste olive oil as well as covering “why is sensory analysis of virgin olive oil necessary”. The class was able to follow along with the initial first tasting and then everyone started to participate with their own sensory evaluation, using the assessment profile sheet made available to them to pick out the character of olive oils.
The day ended on a happy note, with everyone agreeing that the California Olive Oil industry is here to stay and that the opportunities for marketing of good extra virgin olive oil is very important. Check the Events section of the newsletter for upcoming seminars.