Taking a cue from Oliver Wendell and Lisa Douglas from the old TV series ‘Green Acres’, we pulled our city stakes in 2012 and moved to a country home smack in the middle of a century-old Mission olive orchard. We named it ‘Moonrise Grove’ because each month during the full moon our knurled trees cast beautiful elongated shadows in a scene reminiscent of Van Gogh.
Instead of the familiar hustle and bustle of city life, we've embraced a slower pace surrounded by nature. The first thing we see when we go outside in the morning isn’t our city neighbor’s house across fifteen feet of manicured lawn. Now, in addition to our olive trees and the wildlife they support, it is liable to be our neighbor's chickens, sheep, cattle, galloping horses, you name it, and green fields to the horizon.
Moonrise Grove was not irrigated for at least thirty years before coming under our care. Fortunately olive trees are resilient and in the right conditions can survive untended longer than a thousand years. For olives the Mediterranean micro-climate in the Capay Valley seems to be perfect. In spite the years of neglect this grove actually thrived in it's herbicide-free and pesticide-free natural state.
Happily we discovered that the age range of our olive trees is desirable for producing the most flavorful and healthful extra virgin olive oil (EVOO). At their peak of readiness in the fall, Moonrise Grove olives are harvested by great friends of ours (from the Pipeworks rock climbing gym in nearby Sacramento) and immediately sent to an organically certified olive pressing facility, producing delicious organic EVOO.
Our family and friends raved about the results from our test harvest in 2014, our first production harvest (2015), and now the early reports are that our 2016 production run is even better, as we have made improvements in when and how we harvest and mill.
For 2016, the California Olive Oil Council’s taste panel, as well as an independent lab, confirmed the superior quality of our EVOO. By the way, the California Olive Oil Council enforces the most stringent standard in the country for EVOO. A key measure of EVOO quality is the amount of free fatty acids, a negative characteristic that cannot exceed .5 mg (twice as rigorous as the USDA limit.) Moonrise Grove free fatty acids come in at .03 mg - hardly measureable!
For taste, the 2016 COOC sensory panel experts rated our EVOO as having zero defects; medium robustness, low astringency; positive attributes of fruity, bitter, pungent; positive descriptors of artichoke, grass, herbaceous, and ripe olive. (By the way, a copy of the sensory panel report and independent lab analysis is included with each order.)
Moonrise Grove is located at the mouth of the Capay Valley in Northern California. The Capay region is renowned for excellent organic produce and we quickly discovered why. It seems that nearly anything planted in the ground simply explodes with growth. The soil is rich old river valley, built-up over millennia from the Cache Creek watershed which originates from Clear Lake, the largest natural lake in California. Our western property line is bounded by the Winters Canal, a seasonal source of fresh flowing water from Cache Creek that we use to give our trees a deep ‘drink’ of water each month.
Experiencing Moonrise Grove Organic EVOO for oneself is the only way to understand just how good our oil really is. Once you try it, raw and in cooking, you will discover that more commonly available imported or domestic bulk oils just don’t compare. And that best describes our single-minded objective as a fledgling local producer - to build a loyal clientele that is literally addicted to our healthy product!