The grinding stones turn the very ripe, black olives to a bright, lavender pink paste as they crush the fruit, stone and all.
This is the first step in an age-old process (olives were turned into oil by 4500 BCE by Canaanites in present-day Israel) of separating the fat from the olive’s vegetative liquid and solid material at Terra Sávia’s custom crush facility in Hopland.
Its high-capacity Vitone olive mill features both a traditional stone mill and a modern blade crusher, and they are certified by the California Certified Organic Farmers as a mixed-use facility for milling, blending, storing and packaging olive oil.
Although the blade crusher is faster, this particular batch is being processed the old-fashioned way – with three large, thick granite stones, 5 to 6 feet in diameter, rotating, churning the olives, against a 12-foot granite bass, for about 15 to 20 minutes.
The olives being fed onto the granite were picked that morning from Scott Willoughby’s 13 trees planted 15 years ago. For years they had little fruit from the two Italian varietals, but this year they had a big crop.Olives to oil - an age-old process,