Piccirillo is not the only one with the aim of establishing authentic and accessible olive oil as more than 400 growers across the state of California have already established 35,000 acres for extra virgin olive oil production with an estimated 3,500 new acres expected to be planted each year through 2020. A sustainable tree that requires relatively little water, olive trees are an attractive option for growers though the industry is miniscule compared to larger crops such as almonds of which there is almost 1 million acres in the state.
Piccirillo likens olive oil to wine – “they’re kissing cousins” – as each variety offers a unique essence with flavors ranging from grassy to nutty, buttery to fruitful. In Gustine Piccirillo grows Moraiolo, Ascolano, Leccino, Frantoio and Mission olives and a purist in the truest sense, Picarillo’s olives are locally pressed and eventually bottled but not blended.
“Each variety has such a unique flavor and I want people to taste the differences so I don’t just pour them all into one blend,” explained Piccirillo.
Picirillo’s olives are handpicked each season and while her inventory is not large enough for commercial stores such as Costco, she is aiming to make her product available for purchase in local stores. In the meantime, Picirillo is holding down the fort at four markets a week offering locals her olive oil and an industry education — if they ask.
“I like to keep it simple and reasonable. If they want the down-low, I give it to them,” said Piccirillo.