We're taking you behind the scenes of this winter's olive harvest at Round Pond. First, Ryan shows you how we make our olive oil, shepherding the olives from tree to mill to oil to tank in less than an hour. Then she takes you through a tasting of each of our eight olive varietals, explaining what each one brings to the blend.
Taste-Testing Round Pond Olive Varietals
Just as not all olives look the same, not all olives taste the same either. Here’s what each one brings to the mix.
We grow five different Italian varietals at Round Pond and, as lovely as they are on their own, when you add them together you get much more than the sum of the parts:
- Leccino – Leccino is sweet, soft and super approachable. It’s the one that’s “like butta.”
- Pendolino – Pendolino is a beautiful olive oil all on its own: smooth and silky with hints of spice. It’s also the pollinator, so it’s important to have amongst the trees.
- Maurino – Like Leccino, Maurino also brings a soft, creaminess, although with less richness.
- Frantoio – Frantoio has a nice, spicy pungency to it with brings a nice peppery bite to the mix.
- Coratina – Coratina is the backbone. It’s bitter on its own, but it brings structure, complexity and depth to the blend, especially in the mid-palate. It’s the opposite end of the spectrum from Leccino.
We harvest our Italian olives for our Italian Varietal Extra Virgin Oil earlier in the season to show off the green, pungent qualities that overlay the rich butteriness of the Leccino, Pendolino and Maurino for a classic Tuscan-style oil.
We also grow three Spanish varietals:
- Mission – Mission olives have been here in California for centuries. They’re bitter on their own, but they bring a really nice structure to the blend. We let our olives get really ripe so they get over the super-bitter hump.
- Sevillano – The Sevillano olives are huge—they can sometimes run as large as a golf ball—which makes them hard to mill because there’s so much water in them. We persevere though for the olive’s exotic, almost tropical flavor. Because they’re so complex to mill, we’re one of the few who grow and press these; they’re quite prized around here.
- Manzanillo – Manzanillo has a similar flavor profile to the Sevillano: sweet, buttery, with a hint of vanilla.
These olives come from 100-year old trees and are harvested later than the Italian varietals to bring out their buttery nature.
Whether Italian or Spanish, each olive varietal is unique, and each contributes something special to the blend.