After a whirlwind, record-breaking harvest, the 2015 Jordan Estate Extra Virgin Olive Oil is now resting in its tanks here in our cellars.
In just 10 days, from November 3 to the 13th, our staff and a hired crew picked 44 tons of olives, shattering any previous record in our two decades of growing olive trees on Jordan Estate. Last year, we picked 12 tons.
The alternate bearing philosophy of the trees--one vintage bigger and the next one is smaller--may be out the window at Jordan. We continue to see extreme growth in total production of olives--most likely because the trees are coming into full maturity now that they are about 20 years old. We've also moved to picking the olives at a higher maturity level--riper, darker fruit--than in years past. Riper olives yield more oil per ton, so that ripeness decision--based on the chef's desire for a fuller bodied, less pungent style of oil--means more oil from the same amount of trees.
Growing conditions were very good for olives in 2015--no frost or big rains in the spring and a warm but not too hot summer--leading to an earlier harvest than usual--about three weeks ahead of schedule. Because the olive trees bloomed in April before the inclement weather that hit during the flowering of our grapes, there were ample flowers on the olive trees, signaling a decent-sized crop. Just before summer arrived, we noticed smaller-sized fruit was forming on the olive trees, which we attributed to the drought. We thought the smaller olives would also dictate the overall size of the harvest--but the tiny olives grew in size to normal over the course of the summer.
The Spanish Arbequina enjoyed a very bountiful, very healthy harvest this year, which made our chef Todd Knoll very happy; 2014 was a down year for Arbequina, in particular, and that's one of Todd's favorite olives for the blend due to its rich, buttery mid-palate. He's excited it will play a bigger role in the 2015 bottling. Our annual blending session, conducted with Todd, myself and assistant winemaker Maggie Kruse, will occur in February.