Red Rock Extra Virgin Olive Oil
The orchards of Red Rock Olive Oil of California are located on a quiet country road in Orland, California. Surrounded by orchards of almonds, rows and rows of olives are planted in the new super high density style. If you have ever driven on I-5 North, you may have seen these types of orchards and wondered what they were. It is this modern method of growing olives that has us intrigued to find out more.
Red Rock Country
We pass signs on the side of the road that read “Farmers Feed America” and we know we are in farm country. This is the real deal. The Nomlaki Indian tribe once roamed this quiet and peaceful land that is surrounded by The Black Buttes, The Cascades, Mount Shasta, and Mount Lassen. Now home to Red Rock Olive Oil of California, we stand in awe of their 30 acre orchard that flanks Red Rock Lake. As we tour the orchards, we find beautiful red rocks lying on the earth’s floor. We can’t help but wonder if they are remnants of volcanic eruptions of the past. As we pick one up to check it out, we are told that this area is full of these red rocks. In fact, that’s how Red Rock Olive Oil of California got it’s name.
Super High Density Method
Unlike a traditional olive grove where trees are planted far enough apart to allow full growth of the tree, the Super High Density method is quite the opposite. The idea was originated in Spain where the trees are planted close together and trained to grow on a trellis like grapevines in a vineyard. Once fully grown, the trees are trimmed like a hedge.
Under the watchful eye of Derek, owner and farmer of Red Rock Olive Oil of California, perfect hedgerows consisting of Arbequina, Arbosana, and Koroneiki varietals soak up the sun until they are ripe for picking. Like a horse whisperer, he lets the olives dictate when they are ready to be harvested, not the time of year or season. Picking too early or too late can change the flavor of the oil produced for Red Rock Olive Oil of California. Coming from a family with six generations of farming expertise, we know that we can trust that Derek knows what he is doing.
Another difference between traditional groves and Super High Density orchards is the way the olives are harvested. Super High Density orchards are harvested by a machine. A mechanical harvester straddles the hedge and runs vibrating tines through the branches to knock the olives onto a conveyer that gently transports them into a gondola. This method actually keeps the olives from falling to the ground and protects them from bruising and degradation. Taken to a nearby mill within hours of harvest, the olives of Red Rock Olive Oil of California are pressed into the freshest extra virgin olive oil and bottled just for us.
High Yield and High Quality
When asked “Why Super High Density?”, we expected an answer to include “profit” in it. However, Red Rock Olive Oil of California is more focused on quality, efficiency and sustainability. With approximately 670 trees per acre, the Super High Density olive orchards produce about 5,000 gallons of pure extra virgin olive oil per year. Derek explains that some years are better than others, but with Super High Density orchards, Red Rock Olive Oil of California can produce two to three times as much as a traditional olive grove the same size.
It takes a crew (Derek, his Dad, his brother, and nephew) to harvest 10 acres in a day. With 30 acres of olives, this job is completed in three days total. A traditional grove this size would take more time and manpower, more tractors, and more money to operate which can drive up the cost. Red Rock Olive Oil of California focuses on efficiently producing a superior product at a reasonable price.
They want to reach the consumer and teach them about the flavor characteristics and benefits of quality extra virgin olive oil. They want you to use it everyday, reminding us that the oil’s quality will deteriorate the longer it sits in your cupboard. It not only loses it’s flavor over time but it’s high polyphenol and antioxidant levels drop. The Red Label blend has a nice balance of fruitiness and bitterness that pairs well with just about everything. So please, enjoy the flavor and health benefits while it’s fresh and don’t save it for a special occasion! It may be too late!
At Home On Red Rock Lake
Red Rock Lake acts as an irrigation source for the olive orchards, but is also a natural ecosystem. Red Rock Olive Oil of California is conscious of the environment they have chosen to do business. Three acres are reserved and maintained as a natural habitat area for native birds that come and nest at Red Rock Lake and call their home.
Red Rock Olive Oil of California is a business that Derek and his wife Sandi look forward to growing and running together as a family. They hope to one day build their home upon Red Rock Lake and raise their family amongst the beautiful scenery that has captured our hearts. We hope their knowledge and passion will be passed down to yet another generation of farmers.
Real People. Real Life. Real Food. Do you know where your olive oil came from? You will if you buy Red Rock Olive Oil of California. Not only is their oil certified by the California Olive Oil Council as “extra virgin”, they also won a Gold medal at the New York International Olive Oil Competition in 2013. We thank Derek and Sandi for taking time out of their busy lives to explain how they bring olive oil from their farm to your dish. We’d like to add, because we just can’t resist, that we think Red Rock Olive Oil of California ROCKS!
Find out where you can purchase Red Rock Olive Oil of California by visiting their website: www.redrockoliveoil.com
Photographs taken by The Grove & Co. at Red Rock Olive Oil of California in Orland, CA.
*Additional photos of the mechanical harvester provided by http://ktmoffittphotography.com