Extra Virgin Olive Oils



Sure, we’ve all heard the term, but what exactly is extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)?

Extra virgin is the highest grade of olive oil. It’s made mechanically, without the use of chemicals or excessive heat.

To be labeled extra virgin, the olive oil is supposed to meet certain levels of chemical and organoleptic standards. Unfortunately, there is no single international standard to which all countries adhere, and to which all producers are independently tested.

California has the strictest standards with its Grade and Labeling Standards for Olive Oil, Refined-Olive Oil and Olive-Pomace Oil. The standards include random testing for producers of over 5,000 gallons of olive oil annually.

The chemical characteristics of extra virgin olive oil give indications about the oil’s quality, from how it was made and stored, to how the fruit was grown, transported, harvested, milled, packaged, and bottled. Organoleptic evaluation (think taste and mouthfeel) determine taste qualities such as bitterness, fruity or grassy aromas, buttery sensation on the palate; and taste defects, which can result in undesirable taste traits such as: acetone, brine, fusty, grubby, stale nuts and more.

Just as with wine, there are huge differences among extra virgin olive oils in terms of their quality, taste, aroma, color, health benefits, shelf life, presentation, and price. They range from very delicate and mellow to quite bitter and pungent. And just like with wine, the pairing of olive oils with food can be optimized.

Recommendation #1:

Do some sampling to understand your extra virgin olive oil taste profile: Are you a low to medium (think Pinot Grigio to mellow Chardonnay) or a medium to strong (think peppery Pinot Noir to bold California Cabernet)?

Recommendation #2:

Buy California extra virgin olive oil – it’s your surest bet that what you’re purchasing is truly what you think you’re buying due to its strict standards and testing. And we believe we produce some of the best extra virgin olive oil that California has to offer.