Extra Virgin Olive Oil

The Sabina, in the rolling hills north of Rome, is justifiably famous for its olive oil. Olive oil has been made in this area for thousands of years, and indeed, boasts two trees still living, which were already being harvested when Rome was founded, in the 7th century BC.

Our four hundred trees are looked after to organic standards, and following our latest inspection (in June 2021), we will receive our organic certification in time for this year’s harvest, having finally completed the required conversion period!

Preparations for the olive harvest on our farm start during the previous autumn. Whilst harvesting, we remove any branches that are too high, growing in the wrong direction, or impeding the flow of nutrients to other branches, in order to improve the following year’s tree health.

Scott and Holly, hard at work

In early spring, we prune the trees: the pruned wood is used in our home’s boiler to keep us warm, and the smaller twigs and branches are mulched back into the grove, or used in our vegetable garden. Pruning is essential for tree health and olive quality. Every leaf should get its fair share of sun, and no branches should touch each other. It is a highly regarded art form in Sabina, so when our agronomo recently pronounced our work “buon lavoro”, it was a very proud moment!

During the summer, we keep the gove neat and tidy. We remove suckers from beneath the trees, and any inward growth from the trees themselves, ensuring that the olives get maximum benefit from the nutrients in our soil. The olive fruit fly is our nemesis, but instead of spraying pesticides, we hang plastic bottles from the branches, baited with a “delicious” mixture of wine vinegar, ammonia and anchovies to entice the little blighters into our traps, instead of our olives.

Bella “helping” me to strip olives from a branch

Harvest time is mid to late October, always finished by early November, in order to maximise flavour and the health giving properties of the oil. We only use olives from our own trees, which are a mixture of classic Italian varieties such as Frantoio, Pendolino, Leccino, and then the Sabine classics, peppery Carboncello, and the beautiful Raja.

Olives, like all fruit, bruise easily, and start to spoil as soon as they are off the tree. So we harvest using little rakes, allowing the fruit to drop onto nets which we have spread under the trees. Once a tree is stripped, we hand sort the olives, removing any “sub-optimal” ones, as well as sticks, leaves, and anything else that has fallen onto the net. Finally, we scoop the best olives up into small baskets, fill the car with our day’s work, and drive our precious cargo five minutes to our local olive mill. We always mill our olives within a day of harvesting.

The unique thing about our oil is that every batch tastes different. Each batch has a subtly different mix of olives, each batch is harvested in slightly different areas of the grove, in different weather conditions, on different days. Our oil is genuinely single estate, hand picked, and cold extracted in tiny batches. Every bottle has its own unique flavour, and every bottle is delicious!

You can read much, much more about our olive grove, our extra virgin olive oil (with tasting notes), and the “correct” method for olive oil tasting here: https://olivehillsabina.com/2020/11/05/the-taste-of-real-extra-virgin-olive-oil/

And of course you can buy our extra virgin olive oil for yourself!

We still have a limited quantity of our 2020 harvest year Extra Virgin Olive Oil available direct from the farm, here in the village of Tarano, fifteen minutes from the Ponzano-Romano exit of the A1 autostrada.

Bottles (all prices are in Euros):

250ml: 5.00

500ml: 8.50

Tins:

1 litre: 13.50

3 litres: 40.00

5 litres: 60.00

Please contact us via email: emma@olivehillsabina.com to arrange a pickup.