Our olive groves were a derelict wilderness when we purchased the land back in the winter of 2006. The farm or "Finca" was slightly over 24 acres and held about 950-1,000 olive trees as well some carob and almond trees. In addition, there was a ruined mill on one side of the land.
Initially we had planned to rebuild a ruined mill which was on the lower terraces next to the barranc to run as a "Casa rural" for paying guests, while we rented accomodation in the local village Mas de Barberans. However, the local water authority refused our planning permission and plan B came into effect.
We started restoring the olive groves with a view to producing our own olive oil for sale in the UK. It was slow hard work, as the trees were extremely overgrown and needed a lot of pruning to get them back into a productive state. The local olive farmers all told us it would be at least three years before the trees would start to produce collectable quantities of olives, so we knew we work in for a hard slog.
Terrace by terrace, we cut back the overgrown branches and basal sprouts. Counting the rings on the biggest branches showed they were fifteen years old, giving an indication of the lack of work the finca had endured.
By 2010 we managed bring about 350 trees into a olive bearing state and that autumn we produced a small quantity of extra virgin olive oil which we gave out to friends and family as a taste test. They all loved it, so we had the confidence to continue with our plan and worked even harder at pruning the trees and bring more terraces into a production.
2011 was a disasterous year. The summer was very dry preventing good olive growth and then just when the few olives that were on the trees started to ripen we had a few days of torrential freezing rain which knocked them all off the trees and causing them to rot on the ground. What olives we collected that year were sold to the co-operative "Soldebre" for their own production.
2012 gave us some rainfall throughout the year and by the autumn and we knew we could collect a viable quantity of olives for making into oil. From late October to early December, we collected olives and every Monday drove them down to Soldebre where they were processed and held in a separate tank for our own use. By the middle of December, we had collected just over 5,000 kilos of olives which produced 475 litres of olive oil.
The quality was even better than our earlier oil. The flavour of olive oil is partly governed by its acidity levels, with high levels giving a more bitter taste. In 2010 our olive oil was 0.4% acidity. In 2012 it was 0.3% acidity, which almost impossible to better. The upper limit for Extra Virgin olive oil is 0.8% acidity, while Virgin olive oil can be up to 1.5% acidity and ordinary olive oil can be up to 2% acidity.
In early 2013 we shipped 950 1/2 litre bottles of Our Olive Oil to the our couriers warehouse in the UK where is sold from this site on a 24 hour delivery service. All of this has now been sold and we are hoping to restock with this years oil in early December.