Ciarlo Fruit and Nut, LLC is a small producer of extra virgin olive oils, located in northern Solano County, California, about half-way between the communities of Winters and Vacaville, in an area known as “The English Hills”. The top of the property is about 360 feet in elevation, in which we reap the benefits of heat inversion. Our trees rarely freeze in the winter months. We planted our first olive trees in 2005, with more trees planted three years later. Varieties planted on the back side of the property include Koroneiki, a Greek olive, and Arbosano, and Arbequina, both Spanish varieties.
In the spring of 2015, another variety of trees, Hojiblanca, was planted. In the spring of 2017, the final olives were added on the front of the property, Picual and more Hojiblanca. Both are Spanish varieties.
Our oil is laboratory tested by AgbioLab and certified with the California Olive Oil Council, which verifies that our oil is free from defects and is 100% Extra Virgin olive oil, meeting COOC standards.
The oils are allowed to settle for several months before bottling to minimize sediment in the bottle. We bottle in dark glass to prevent light degradation. Each bottle is topped off with a shot of Argon, an inert gas, further protecting the oil from Oxygen degradation. Our Extra Virgin Olive Oils are wonderful as a final finish when drizzled over roasted vegetables or meats, especially fish. Use in salad dressings, as a dipping for bread, or drizzled over freshly-cooked pasta, tossing in crushed red pepper, chopped fresh parsley, minced garlic, fresh lemon juice, to suit your own personal taste. Try the oils over rich vanilla ice cream, for a fast and impressive dessert.
There are a variety of stone fruit trees on the property, the fruit from which goes into making jams and jellies. In addition, we have several varieties of citrus fruit trees, the fruits of which are used in the production of jams, jellies, marmalades, and other preserves. We also have rhubarb plants, pomegranate, fig, and laurel bay trees.
We do our utmost to protect the fragile ecosystem that we have been provided. All table and food processing scraps are composted, which puts more nutrients back into the soil. We plant cover crops in the winter, which are mowed down in the spring and mulched back into the soil. We’ve installed 72 solar panels to minimize our carbon footprint and help to eliminate our reliance on the power grid. We irrigate the olive groves and fruit tree orchards from our own well.
The property had been protected by our two dogs, Bear and Skyler. They now supervise from “Doggie Heaven”, while Duggan and Lucy have taken over the ground work. They get help from friends Gracie and Holly. Four cats, Toes, Smudge, Motor, and Tude take charge of the house. The numbers of animals vary continuously, as determined by “The Pet God”.
Both Chris and Pat grew up in rural Montana, in the Yellowstone River Valley, around towns much like Winters and Vacaville. Communities built on agriculture and hard work. Growing olives is very different from the row crops on the farm on which Pat grew up. But the love of the land and the promise to protect it are very much in line with the history of both Pat and Chris’ early years.
We have almost 300 trees on two and a half acres of our five-acre property. In the back grove, 4% of the trees are Arbequina, 48% Arbosana, both Spanish varieties, and 48% Koroneiki olives, a Greek variety. The front orchard is planted with 80 Hojiblanca trees and 50 Picual trees, both Spanish varieties. The front olive grove should start producing this year. The 2016-17 winter rains made for very happy trees; lots of blossoms, with promising fruit production.
We irrigate with drip irrigation, using automatic timers, from our own well. This allows the proper amount of water to be used, without wasting precious water and risking run-off. A back-up water supply is available via the local water district, if needed. The grasses and weeds are mowed in the spring to keep weeds and insects at a minimum.
Our olives are harvested in the late fall, anytime from October through December. In 2016, our olives were picked in early November. The olives are hand-picked, gently piled into perforated bins, and kept shaded. This gentle handling yields olives that are clean, unbruised, and cool; all of which prevents early oxidation.
At the end of the day’s harvest, the olives are trucked to a state-of-the art milling facility and processed within hours. For the 2016 harvest, we utilized Il Fiorello Olive Oil Company, in Fairfield, CA, and Bondolio, located between Winters and Davis. Fast processing of the olives prevents oxidation and bruising of the olives, yielding the freshest oil possible.
Olives on the Ciarlo Estate consist of Koroneiki olives, a Greek variety, and Arbosano and Arbequina olives, both Spanish varieties. The 2016 harvest yielded 1400 pounds of olives and 33 ½ gallons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
For the 2016 harvest, we purchased olives from two neighbors, Red Bud Ranch and Rybicki Ranch, both up-road from our own property. Olives from these two properties are primarily Frantoio, a Tuscan variety, which yields a fruity olive oil. Red Bud Ranch also grows table olives, which were included in the 2016 “The ‘Hood”. These olives, Ascolano, Manzanillo, and Sevillano, lend a green fruity note to the oil, characterized as “tomato leaf”. Total production for “The ‘Hood” from our olives and these two groves was 1125 pounds of olives, yielding 17 ½ gallons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
Also for the 2016 harvest, we purchased olives from Putah Creek Walnut Ranch. Primarily Frantoio olives, this grove is nestled among thriving walnut trees, just south of Putah Creek, west of Winters, CA. This grove yielded over 3600 pounds of olives and 61 gallons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil.