Monte-Bellaria Extra Virgin Olive Oil is our own organic, cold-pressed and unfiltered oil. Harvested early and pressed within 24 hours and within 2 miles of the olive grove at Olive Leaf Hills Mill using their Italian-made Rapanelli press.
In many cultures, olive oil is used instead of butter for adding flavor to breads, vegetables and starchy side dishes. But the oil you get from the average store is usually fairly bland—rich and buttery in texture—but lacking much identifiable flavor. Most of the olive oil you’ll find at retail is meant for “cooking,” heating it to sauté or as another form of cooking oil. In essence, it is a high quality fat.
Monte-Bellaria’s Tuscan-varietal blend of oil olive trees (the “starts” originally sourced from McEvoy Olive Ranch, now 10 years old) are naturally more flavorful than most production olives. However, it is not just the type of olives, but the timing of the harvest that makes a huge difference. Most oil is harvested when the majority of the fruit is ripe on the tree; this yields the highest quantity of oil, but not the most flavorful.
At Monte-Bellaria, we harvest more than a month before all the fruit would be ripe (i.e. about half the fruit has fully ripened.) This produces a premium green oil, for a rich and peppery flavor. We get a lot less volume, but much more “grassy pepper” flavor note. Our oil is a “finishing oil,” meaning that you’d never want to cook with it, but rather use it as a final touch for salads, bread, pasta, etc.
A surprising way to serve our green oil is over vanilla ice cream with a dash of sea salt. The oil transforms a “sweet” taste into a “savory” experience.
The particular olive that provides the most flavor in our oil is the “Pendolino” varietal. Here are six varietals that are pressed together to form our Sonoma Blend oil:
- Pendolino: Oil is peppery and fruity with an artichoke bouquet.
- Frantoio: Popular for producing slightly grassy, fruity, aromatic oils of very high quality.
- Leccino: Oil is mild, fruity and delicate, with a slightly grassy, peppery kick but with a smooth, fluid finish.
- Maurino: This is the varietal that produces best in our area of West Sonoma County and yields a mild and delicate, fruity oil.
- Moraiolo: Oil is fruity and grassy, with a slightly bitter aftertaste.
- Coratina: Oil has a fruity fragrance with a slightly bitter, spicy flavor.