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Olive harvest getting underway in San Luis Obispo County

Posted at 7:29 AM, Nov 22, 2019

Though the wine harvest is already complete, a different kind of San Luis Obispo County crop is about to be picked this weekend: olives.

"This year, I think is gonna be one of our better harvests," Pasolivo Gen. Manager Marisa Bloch said.

On the eve before picking commences, the green gems dangling from branches across Pasolivo's 45-acre orchard soak up their final hours of sunlight.

This year's heavy winter rain means there's lots of work to do.

"We bring in crews, typically at least 80 people per day," Bloch said. "Some people choose to use machines but what we do is handpick them to cause less bruising to the fruit."

For the next three weeks, crews will pick 11 varieties of olives from the 6,500 trees across the property over the Thanksgiving holiday.

"We only pick enough olives to be processed that day because olives have to be processed within 24 hours of coming off the tree, otherwise they start to ferment," Bloch said.

Bloch said most of the olives are processed within two to four hours of leaving the branch to ensure optimal taste.

"One of the best ways to really get that flavor is some bread, maybe get some vinegar in there, just for dipping," Bloch said.

What's picked in the orchard is served nearby at the tasting room.

"We make all of our olive oil here 100 percent with olives from our orchard," Noelle Scotti, the Pasolivo tasting room host, said.

State certified extra virgin olive oil will be ready to sample about six months after harvest.

"We let our customers pick the ones they want to try," Scotti said.

But one type of oil is only available to customers during harvest time.

"One of the coolest things, I think, is you can try Olio Nuovo or the fresh oil coming off the mill right as it's being produced," Bloch said.