I had the pleasure of meeting Laura the weekend of Benvenuto Brunello at the vineyard she runs with her husband Marco in Montalcino. This bubbly Scot is extremely knowledgeable about wine and having been invited to a tasting it would have been extremely rude not to have taken at least a few sips (glasses) of the wonderful nectar they produce which would also be great to serve to your guests for your wedding breakfast.
Although I love wine and anything remotely related to it, while we were tasting I met a couple of Americans who had come to collect their olive oil from their own personal tree which they had adopted, this is such a great idea and would make a perfect gift for a couple getting married here that I asked Laura to write me a guest blog about it, read on to discover how you too can have your own olive tree in Tuscany.
Your own olive tree in Tuscany, your own olive oil at home
Il Palazzone is close to the centre of Montalcino in the heart of postcard Tuscany. Cypresses, sunsets, chanting monks, delightful wine, rolling hills, cheese and oil … you name it, Montalcino has it in spades.
The main business of the farm is making prestigious Brunello wine, but we also have three beautiful olive groves and a miniscule production of very high quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
Four years ago we decided to put our olive trees up for adoption and Club100 began. Members have a hand-painted ceramic plaque with their name on it on “their” tree. They receive a certificate of ownership with the altitude and GPS. Most importantly they receive three bottles of delicious oil, usually before Christmas, since we ship “cold” off the press.
Not surprisingly giving a membership of Club100 is a popular wedding and anniversary gift. For those who have had special experiences in Tuscany it’s a wonderful way to remember them every time you dress a special salad or serve a great dish of pasta. Nearly all of our members seem to become addicted to their own supply of fresh oil and renew from year to year. Many make a point of visiting their tree from time to time or of sending friends to visit.
The longer that olives stay on the tree the riper they get. This means that they are easier to harvest and that they yield more oil. The only thing is quality is inversely related to yield. We pick preposterously early – usually almost straight after our grape harvest at the end of October or early November. We pick by hand which is better for the olives (and therefore the oil) but this is perhaps the most tedious agricultural operation in our calendar. Wearing wicker baskets around the waist, each olive is plucked one by one. This might sound romantic but two or three days up a ladder in the same tree with the wind whistling around your ears might have you change your mind.
We press at the award-winning mill, Frantoio Franci and we take our olives there within an hour of them coming off the tree. We use small crates so there is no risk of the olives suffering in transit.
After all this, of course our yields are puny – around 9 litres of olive oil for every hundred kilos of olives picked. Its no wonder that we consider the oil to be liquid gold – all 700 500 ml bottles of our annual production.
I was pleased to see that Angelina gave an olive tree to Brad Pitt last Valentine’s day. I’d like to think she got the idea from us….
For information about 2011 membership, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org