Best of Show: Bondolio Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Is this Italy? No it’s California!
Bondolio “aside from the grapevine, there’s no more important plant than the olive.”
The Property looks as beautiful as any olive grove in Italy. It is here we met Karen Bond and her husband Malcolm. Karen is Italian, and loves the olive oil that tastes very green on a baguette sprinkled with a little salt. They own a medical supply business and many acres of land in the fertile soil near Davis, California.
While traveling in Naples they were so impressed tasting olio novo from 1,000 year old trees, they decided to replace their almond grove with olive trees and make the best olive oil they could with an exclusive flavor profile.
After a blind tasting of many blends, Karen chose the one she loved the most, a blend of Nocellara (oval green), Biancolilla (small round) , and Cersola (purple) olives, a typical Sicilian oil, grassy, fruity, with no bitterness. They bought the olive trees from a grower in Sicily, planted them 25 feet apart based of their recipe of the blend for each varietal. and pruned them in the old world method. This is called the Field Blend. The olives from the 1200 trees are hand picked by friends and seasonal workers with love and precision in waste buckets, never any olive hitting the ground. That prevents getting the ‘fly’, the insect that is the menace to all harvests.
They decided to control production by creating their own mill, where the olives are pressed hours after picking. The ‘Miller’ controls the production and Karen tastes each batch as it comes off the press to make sure it is perfect. Last year they produced 37,000# of olives. The first batch is the delicacy and as clean as it can be. That is the Olio Nuovo, which is always available after the harvest in November. We will have this in December for our holiday customers. After pressing, their Olio Nuovo lasts longer because there is only a little bit of sediment in the bottom. It is very clean.
Waste free, the pate, which separates the pits ground from the oil, is high in nutritional content, and used for cattle feed, The soil in this part of California, filled with citrus and stone fruit groves, is rich top soil for 14 feet, highly organic, thus does not need more nutrients.
After pressing the olives are stored in 55 gallon drums and decanted twice, which means the sentiment is scripted off the bottom. It is unfiltered.
Fun Fact: UC Davis is 5 miles away, and keeps 2 plants of every varietal just in case something happens to the trees…they do that for the grape varieties as well.
For all this love the precision they have won awards: In the Medium Blend Category
The Gold Award in NY and LA for the last 2 years and Best in Show at the California State Fair.
The property is east of the city of Winters, just over the Solano County Line. Their home includes an array of Deruta ceramic planters and an outdoor kitchen where they are hosts for cooking classes and celebrations.
Don’t you want to be invited? I do…
and you cannot resist the delicious taste of this oil from proud producers.