Grazie infinite to our Founding Members of Casal Cristiana Viva Verde Club
who made it possible for us to follow our project all the way through from idea to reality. (In the photo on the left, Founding Members pose for a photo post launch party.) It wasn't even a year ago when we sat down at our friend's kitchen table in Torre di Palme to discuss the possibility of working together to bring high quality extra virgin olive oil to America from our beautiful zone in Le Marche, Italy. In fact, it was just 10 short months ago we became serious about propelling this percolating idea to fruition. You see, it was the 2012 harvest when we were introduced to Roberto and Francesco through a friend of ours, Luigi. In typical Italian fashion, Luigi casually invited us to come visit his friends' (Roberto and Francesco) olive mill and watch the harvest. It also happened to be the first year we were missing the grape harvest in Oregon and for Michel, who had spent nearly his entire life centering his life around his family's winery and never missing a harvest, the mood in our Italian home was a bit melancholy. But the moment we walked onto the crush pad the pungent aroma of fresh, crushed olives intensely hit our noses as well as all other sensory factors. The rumbling of the tractors was music to our ears as they zipped back and forth through the parking lot picking up totes loaded with freshly harvested olives. The "beep, beep" sound as they backed up quickly punctuated with importance. The fruit needs to be processed as soon as possible, so speed adds excitement to the work. The scene of totes filled with bright green, dark black,
aubergine and dark green olives was a feast for our eyes as we scanned the production facility. We were feeling quite at home as it was immediate relief to feel something familiar when the other parts of lives had become so foreign. With big smiles on our faces, we watched as the totes of olives were being delivered, washed, sorted and put through the de-stemmer before being spilled into the crusher, relishing in the similarities to the grape harvest. But the actual "crush" ... this is where it became a little different from wine making .... three enormous granite wheels were slowly turning and gyrating to crush the olive flesh into a paste that was then spread on corded mats. These mats were then stacked with added pressure. As the olive juice drips down the stacks, it is collected and then put through a centrifuge which separates the water from oil. From here, the oil can immediately go into bottling for fresh, unfiltered oil or put into large tanks for "racking" which allows the sediment to settle to the bottom of the tank and then the oil is ready for bottling. We were so excited after that visit we harvested our own small gathering of trees for personal use and learned a thing or two through the process.
Fast forward to this year .... From the 2013 harvest, we are so pleased to present Casal Cristiana Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oil
, 100% Italian frantoio olives. Our first bottling is a monovarietal, not a blend of other varieties and we couldn't be happier with the color, flavor and aroma. It has the fresh scent of crushed olives, a buttery yet bright flavor with hints of apples and green grass that lingers and then finishes with a little pepper at the back of throat. We have received great reviews and our members are enthusiastically sending us photos, such as the one shown here, of their newly received Casal Cristiana Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Our Founding Members of Casal Cristiana Viva Verde Club
celebrated with us at our release launch party at Michel's family winery, Ponzi Vineyards
in Oregon, USA on Sunday, January 12th. The photo to the right below is a family affair. Dick and Nancy Ponzi (Michel's parents and founders of Ponzi Vineyards), were on hand to celebrate our new venture with Luca and Marco (our two boys) me and Michel Ponzi.
It was wonderful to see old friends and meet new clients as we tasted the olive oil for the first time in America. As we shared our story and gave a brief education about extra virgin olive oil it was clear that we have been very busy while living "la dolce vita" (the sweet life) in Italy but more importantly, that there is tremendous opportunity for olive oil education. Americans are hungry for something good, something real, and something with a sense of people and place. It is the same as when Americans were thirsty for fine European wines more than 50 years ago. For so many people, food is not just fuel for the body, but an experience and that it represents a healthy lifestyle. A few more Viva Verde memberships are left on this shipment, so if you are interested in receiving your 6 bottle case of Casal Cristiana Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oil
, make the order now. It will arrive to your home in a few days. And on that note, we will be sending a second shipment this spring for new memberships and reorders. Delivery to your home will be in the spring. Please contact us if you have any questions or news to share! Single bottles will be available for sale soon at our family restaurant, The Dundee Bistro
, in Dundee, Oregon. It is with pleasure to join the olive oil movement and to share information regarding reading labels, training your palate, health benefits, uses and industry regulation for extra virgin olive oil. Embark upon a new way of eating with extra virgin olive oil, la vita è breve, mangia bene ..... life is short, eat well.