California olive oil to have record breaking year

FRESNO, Calif.

Consumers are discovering California grown olives produce a much better tasting oil.

The California Farm Bureau says growers this year could produce a record two million gallons of olive oil.

The Valley olive harvest has wrapped up, with added acreage pushing olive oil production to new highs.

Ricchuiti Family Farms grows, presses and mills its own organic olives under the Enzo Olive Oil brand.

Vincent Ricchuiti was excited to hear about this year's production forecast.

"There's a report out there we're expecting about 2 million gallons of olive oil this year as an industry," Ricchuiti said. "That's great news because that means farmers are getting higher yields, bigger crops."

Ricchiuti says the growth in California olive oil production means bigger stores can also carry their products, in addition to the family store Bella Fruitta.

At "We Olive" in Fig Garden Village, Wayne Rogers gets customers to sample different oils so they know what freshly pressed olive oil tastes like. He sells nothing but California grown oil from a variety of producers around the state.

"If you go to the grocery store and buy three different bottles they will probably taste the same. Olive oils shouldn't," Rogers said. "It should run from light buttery oil all the way up to strong pungent oil."

Some oils are flavored. Ricchiuti says his family is introducing three new flavors for the holidays.

"Garlic, meyer lemon and basil," Ricchiuti said. "And again, all will be organic."

Rogers says the last thing you want to do is go to a store and settle for a bottle of cheap olive oil from Italy.

"The oil coming from Europe, to be very honest with you, is probably not 100 percent olive oil," Rogers said. "It's a large of quantity of canola oil, of soybean oil."

Local olive oil producers urge you to try something new.

Consumer Reports rates California olive oil as the best quality and best-tasting oil, but 98 percent of olive oil consumed in U.S. is still imported from other countries.

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