Celebrating the harvest season at Rancho Mirando
Rancho Mirando recently celebrated the harvest season with their first annual olive harvest gala!
Ranch owner Donna Aldred tackled the adventure of olive farming with gusto, like she has most everything else at the ranch. After initially growing lavender she made the decision to plant dozens of olive trees a few years ago to add to the farming operation. Last month, she gathered brave friends and family early on a weekday morning to help pick and process Rancho Mirando-grown olives into oil. Surprisingly Boss Lady (daughter Leslie) gave permission for the harvest festivities even though the ranch had customers on site that weekend.
The adventure began with her 10 volunteers, bucket in hand, picking 87 pounds of olives. Each bucket was then weighed in order to account for each tree’s production. Then all the olives were hand washed.
“It took 2 engineers, an international airline pilot, and an architect to figure out the grinding and pressing machine!” said Donna.
At last, fifty bottles stood at the ready as she and her guests eagerly awaited the masses of olive oil they expected they would produce.
In a surprising turn of events, it was discovered that the 10 hours of hard, dirty work of picking and processing 87 pounds of olives produced less than a gallon of oil! Whether due to the fact that the majority of the olives picked the first week were arbequina, a variety that produces less oil than other varieties, or to the newness of the undertaking for this crew, olive farming will continue to be studied and honed at Rancho Mirando like everything else they do. Eventually they’ll get it more than right, it’ll be perfect.
Tours of the new vineyard and olive orchard were followed by a feast under the stars in the Beer Garden on Friday with Donna’s costumed grandchildren prancing nearby.
The Rancho Mirando family was disappointed that their friends and relatives didn’t get to take home a bottle of olive oil as had been planned; but in true Rancho Mirando style the party was a blast by all accounts.
“Mark and I still have 50,000 olives to pick,” says Donna. “I can’t imagine why we have no more volunteers!”