Optimum, California Extra Virgin Olive Oil
The Optimum project became a reality after 12 years of dedication in growing, harvesting, pressing and blending. It started in 1997 when Vincenzo selected in Italy some of the most ancient varieties with the goal of obtaining a noble, fragrant and elegant Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
He imported to California the olive trees from different nurseries of different Italian regions and, in 1998, after the quarantine monitored by UC Davis, established a 5 acre olive grove along our East 7 West DeGraaf Vineyards.
We are listing below each of the 21 varieties. We would like you to discover how each variety has its own colour that varies from green to dark green to black. The difference in the colour reflects a difference in the taste and in the flavours: Optimum becomes Optimum by wisely blending these tastes and flavours together. It is not a standard recipe; the blending percentage changes every year because every year we want to please you with the “best” that nature gives.
- Nocellara Messinese
- Pasola di Andria
- Cima di Melfi
- Cellina di Nardo’
- Termite di Bitetto
Optimum is a cholesterol-free product, with many beneficial health effects. Please contact us for any question or any other curiosity you might have.
Sant’Agostino . This large sized olive cultivar finds its origins in Puglia; it can be dark green colour as a table olive or dark violet when used to produce olive oil. The olive is oval shaped and is remarkable for the quantity of meat and the quality of the flesh. The oil has a very mild-salty flavor achieved from its light brine.
Nocellara Messinese . It grows in the Northeast of Sicily, and in Calabria (south of Italy). The olives are oval-shaped, usually big in size. The olives ripen mid-September to mid-October. The content in oil is about 26%, and, because of the high yield, most of the producers consider it a “blender”.
Itrana . It is a cultivar grown in Lazio area (central Italy). It produces round, medium-sized olives suitable to make both table olives and oil. Harvest happens when the olives are deep purple. It has a good yield of 20 to 22% in oil. The oil is mild, citrus notes.
Lucca . University of California developed this cultivar. It is a high yielding variety, which usually serves to compensate the low yield of other varieties. The harvest of the Lucca olives is usually from early November through mid-December. The oil has an intense sensation of sweetness with a hint of spiciness and a golden yellow with green reflections.
Pendolino . It is a traditional variety of tuscany and Umbria regions. Pendolino olives are suitable for both table and oil production. They vary from green to black (table olives). They are small to medium-sized for oil grown with a yield of 20 – 25%. The oil is a good quality; the colour is a light green, with a light purple blush, slightly spicy.
Coratina . It is native to Puglia. It is also grown in Molise, region of south Italy. They are harvested when the olives start to turn black at the tip. The fruit ripens November and December. The fruit is medium-sized and oval. Yield in oil is 21 to 26%. Coratina produces very high quality oil with high levels of phenols (antioxidants) which make it harsh and it needs time to soften. Thanks to the phenols it is very stable and has a strong peppery flavor.
Ogliarola . The origin of Ogliarola is Puglia. The cultivar matures late, from mid-October to the end of November. The fruit is green to purplish-black in color and has a medium-small weight. Yield in oil is 20 to 25%. The oil is fruity with a persistent spicy flavor and notes of bitter (almonds), tomatoes and apples.
Pasola di Andria . The origin of the variety is not quite clear. It has been cultivated for many centuries in the regions of Puglia and Basilicata (Lucania). It is a cultivar mostly known for being a table olive variety for his attitude in giving to the fruit a “sweet” taste. Olives are dark, black with reddish tint: “Nero Vinoso” in Italian (black-winey color). The oil yield is high (26%). The oil has a medium-light fruity flavor, mild in the taste with light notes of spicy.
Cima di Melfi . Its origin is in the Vulture area, Campania. The drupe (fruit) is oval and elongated, slightly asymmetrical. Late ripening cultivar, the olive turns into a black colour. The average oil yield is 18 to 20%. The oil is of optimum quality: green colour with yellow tonalities, flavours of artichoke and almond and a very piquant taste that gives to it a unique character.
Leccino . Its origins are in Tuscany and central regions of Italy. Ovoid shape olive, at ripening the colour turns into black. The oil is of excellent quality, more delicate than Frantoio. The colour is gold-yellow, with light green nuances. The taste is intense and rich, in which a slight bitter and peppery taste is balanced with flavours of vegetables (mint, basil and artichoke) and sweet almond at the end.
Frantoio . It is the primary variety used in Tuscan oil production. The variety also makes a good table olive after curing. Olives at maturation become black violet colour. The oil has a dark green colour with gold reflexes. The taste is rich and wide; it has a bitter and piquant, with clear taste of artichoke leaf, fresh vegetables, marjoram and rosemary.
Oliastro . All modern olive trees descend from this ancient olive, originally called Oleastro. A thousand-year-old tree still stands near Jerusalem. In Abruzzo, a few rare Olivastro trees, hundreds of years old, still bear fruit. These olives produce little oil, but what they do yield is extraordinary. When olives start changing their colour from green to bluish- purplish, but before they have turn black, is the ideal time to harvest them, as they reach the pick of their flavour. The flavour of the oil is rich in flavours and aroma, mild and fruity.
Cipressino . Cipressino tree is native to Puglia in the “heel” of Italy. The tree produces black olives during mid-November through mid-December. The olives are used to make a fine, light olive oil
Toscanina . The origin is in around Bari and Brindisi area (Puglia); however, is not so widely cultivated because of the low yield. In fact, the average oil yield is (12-18%). The oil is yellow-green, fruity, slightly bitter, accompanied from a persistent good piquant, with pleasant sensations of herb and tomato.
Cellina di Nardo . It is grown in Puglia, particularly in the province of Lecce. Are medium-sized olives, grown for both oil and table olives. When harvested for table olives, they are allowed to ripen on the tree until black. When grown for oil, they are harvested while still green. The oil has good body and a fresh smell.
Termite di Bitetto . It’s diffused especially in the territory of Bitetto (Puglia). The olive is spherical, slightly asymmetrical. The darkening, as the ripening, is precocious and it happens in the month of September. Olives are of a straw-green colour when are harvested for table consumption; for oil production assumes a bluish-black colour. It’s characterized from a pulpy, of light colour in depth, red-winey in the external layer. The oil production is nearly in medium about to 16.5%. The oil is yellow-green colour, slightly bitter and piquant taste
Picholine . Its origin happened to be found in South France and North Africa. It is also known as the “cocktail olive”. The fruit is harvested in October and November, while still green, for use as table olives. For the purpose of producing oil, the olives are picked later, once they have turned dark green. The exact time of harvest for oil is a matter of judgement for the individual farmer; an early harvest gives a fruity taste, while a later harvest brings out more sweetness. The oil results to be of difficult extraction (below 18%). It has an intense green colour, strong taste, accompanied from a good piquant, with notes of green tomatoes.
Nolca . The origin is in the province of Bari (Puglia). The fruit is spherical, large and with a heavy peel. Black color, soft pulp and light color with shades of red wine in the outer layers. It ripens in late September or early October. The pulp yield is average. The oil is green color and very mild.
Carolea . It is grown in Calabria, Italy, and in the area of Enna, Sicily. Carolea olives are medium to large size, grown for both oil and table olives. It has a yield of 20 to 25% in oil. The oil is considered good quality: yellow with green tonalities, fruitiness of apple, almond and artichoke; the taste is lightly bitter, with notes of herbs and spices.
Simone . It is located sporadically in the olive groves of the provinces of Bari and Brindisi. The average oil yield is low (15 to 18%). The oil production is of high quality, intensly fruity flavour of fresh herbs and tomatoes.
Nociara . It is typical of the provinces of Taranto, Bari and Brindisi (Puglia). Early in the season the olives are a very pale-green; at ripening they turn into a red-magenta colour (making the trees particularly attractive) and becoming a dark-violet at full maturation. The average oil yield is (15-20%). The oil is of optimum quality, gold colour with green reflexes. The taste is strong but pleasant in which flavours of vegetables (herbs, pepper and tomatoes) are married with a slight bitter and spicy aftertaste.