In the middle of Paso Robles’ wine country, you can find another small fruit flourishing.
Olive oil production at Pasolivo is in full swing - doubling its harvest this year despite our current drought.
The family-owned business prides itself in its tree-to-table process and how it embodies the Central Coast spirit.
“We take tremendous pride in this product," said Larry Dirk, family member and Miller's Assistant at Pasolivo. "First of all, it’s a family business. We learn how to work hard and put a good product on the table from my mother. She was a very hard worker. You never put anything on the table that you wouldn’t be proud of.
On its 140 acre ranch, Pasolivo grows 12 varieties of olive trees, producing award-winning olive oil.
Dirk already has a full-time job, but happily puts in overtime at the orchard.
“I operate everything on the outside of the building. We dump the fruit we weigh the fruit, we make sure it’s washed and put it in the crusher and once it goes through the crusher then once it goes into the building then that’s the miller’s job,” explains Dirk.
Despite the current drought conditions across California, Pasolivo is experiencing a ‘bumper year’ - meaning olive production is doubled.
And more product means more work.
Marisa Bloch Gaytan is Pasolivo’s Master Blender and Level 2 Olive Oil Sommelier. This Cal Poly graduate plays an integral role there - creating new blends and maintaining the high quality of olive oil.
“Once we bring the olives in, we process everything that was picked that day," said Gaytan. "Olives have to be processed within 24 hours once they come off of the tree, otherwise they start to ferment."
Gaytan says, not all olive oil is created equal, and just because a bottle is labeled extra virgin olive oil - doesn’t mean it’s true.
“There are some great olive oils on the shelf, but there has also been a lot of fraud,” said Gaytan. “In our process, you can’t add any heat or chemicals in order to get certified as extra virgin. You can only run it through one time. so some producers take their past and run it through a second time to extract more oil but that lowers the quality.”
It’s a labor of love at Pasolivo, embracing the Central Coast spirit of bringing the community together.
“It just feels like a community and a family and that's what i love about the Central Coast," said Gaytan. "It just brings everybody together and I am happy to be able to stay here. ”
Dirk agrees that hard work is combined with the pride in their product. "We worked hard always as children, but we always laughed. I mean as long as you have a good time when you are working hard - I mean that’s the best. And my whole family feels the same way," said Dirk.
Pasolivo is open year-round for events and tastings, though harvest only takes about three weeks.
To find out more about the production process and more on what makes quality olive oil - click here.