December 2010

Pan Seared Scallops

by admin on December 29, 2010

The holidays are over—bummer, or a godsend, depending on your point of view—and life is slowly returning to normal. Time to slow down, but also time to eat simply, if very well after the Thanksgiving-to-New Year’s feast-a-thon.

Shellfish is especially good this time of year, when the waters run cold and there is no risk from the “red tide” algae that can be toxic to humans (though, frankly, that risk is minimal pretty much any time of the year given today’s mostly aquaculture-sourced shellfish).

The following dish can either be used as the starter to a multi-course meal or enjoyed individually.

Very simple and very satisfying, this recipe takes just minutes to make and features Lemon Extra Virgin Olive Oil and our Pink Himalayan Salt.

6 sea scallops
2 tablespoons  our Lemon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
12 fresh sage leaves
Pink Himalayan Salt
Lemon zest, in 1-inch strips

Bring the scallops to room temperature and pat dry. Heat a 12-inch cast iron skillet over medium-high heat and just coat the surface of the pan with our Lemon Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

When the oil is sizzling but not smoking place the scallops in the pan, but do not crowd them (if making more than six scallops it is best to cook them in batches). Cook for approximately 3 – 4 minutes, until the underside is caramelized a deep golden brown. Using a thin metal spatula, carefully dislodge and turn over the scallops, add the sage leaves to the pan, drizzle the sage and scallops with Lemon Extra Virgin Olive Oil, and sprinkle over the Pink Himalayan Salt.

When the scallops are done plate with a few of the fried sage leaves, toss on a few slivers of lemon zest, and add an extra dash of the oil or salt to suit your taste.

— serves two as an appetizer

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Guess the Yield – Double H Ranch Oakville

by Peggy OKelly on December 13, 2010

It’s late and we have two properties to harvest early tomorrow so I’m just going to give you the facts of our latest property, Double H Ranch.  It was a last minute deal that came through Bettenelli Farming Co…our friends from Twin Sisters….and one that I couldn’t pass up.

We will get into the story later but for now here are the facts you need to guess:

We harvested today!

35 trees – 85 % Italian varietals and 15% Mission varietals.

Fruit is perfect….half green….half purple.

Heavy crop on 80% of the trees…much heavier then Rutherford Runway.  So, you can compare the two to help your guess.

No record from prior years.

I know you want more facts then this but it’s all I have.  Remember, you are being a virtual olive farmer 🙂    We don’t always have perfect information so we have to compare and feel our way through it.

OK..back to it.  So, here are some pictures.  I’m not going to comment because I’m too tired and need to get some rest before the alarm goes off at 5am.  Get some clues from the pictures.  Remember bins are 1/2 ton bins IF full.  A ton of olives normally yields between 30-35 gallons of oil.

Take your guess in the comments section of this post for your chance to win a New Harvest Oil from Double H!

Good Luck!

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Santa’s Elves Busy At Work

by admin on December 12, 2010

I spent this morning at a new property that we are harvesting, HH Ranch, in the Oakville appelation.  It was a last minute deal that looks like it will yield a first class oil.

When all was good at the Ranch, I ran back to Rutherford to check on the troops.  As I walked through the back door, I felt a shift in energy….I looked around….and then around again….I felt as if I had entered Santa’s workshop.  Everyone was on task and working hard on every level to meet your demands….and this holiday, you have had huge demands….which we appreciate….but weren’t expecting.  We’re on it though…thanks to this stellar crew and their amazing work ethic and positive attitudes.

Reach out and comment if you’d like…as they deserve continuous pats on the backs!

Caitlin is normally Rutherford Retail Lead but she has seamlessly transitioned to Internet Sales Coordinator…..she’s a bit obsessed with how your orders get picked…..we like that.

Deanna normally works the retail floor….but lately has transitioned into helping with graphic design (check out our blog! ) and now she is one of Caitlin’s website pickers….because she is very picky.

Karen normally floats in retail between Rutherford and St. Helena stores….she has transitioned into personal shopping for customers who need help with the perfect holiday gifts.

Chelsea has returned from the University of Denver for the holidays.  Over the years, she has worked the retail floor…, she is running the retail store.  Go Pioneers!

Chris just started last week…he is a senior at St. Helena High School….he started in filing and has gone up the ranks quickly and is now UPS Label Guy.   Go Saints!

And then there is Beto and Armando….they are shipping all of your packages….does that scare you?   They are actually very meticulous guys who take their shipping and you seriously.

Their fearless leader, Jesus, is off today but he would be very proud!

And here is Scott…the fearless leader of them all.  I believe he is on the phone with his psychiatrist…..

(Kayla is holding down the St. Helena store today and Sandi, normally working hard in St. Helena is enjoying a day off.)

A huge thank you to them all!

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Guess the Yield #2 Rutherford Runway Olives

by Peggy OKelly on December 6, 2010

As we were leaving the Flower Market, I found out that the crew I was counting on for Fridays pick was a no go.  Hmm…a no go…I was scheduled to begin a pick the next day with NO crew.  I then received a message from the Mill hoping they we could put a larger crew on the pick so they could have the olives earlier in the day.  A larger crew?  Larger then 0?  After a bit of discussion with Shari at McEvoy, we decided that a 10 person crew would be the best scenario…ok then I only have to add……10.

Sue took the wheel so I could get on the phone and call every Vineyard Management Company that I knew.  I wasn’t having great success until I spoke to my sister.  She could get 10 guys but no foreman so I would have to lead the way…which would be fine except that I took French….my Spanish is no bueno.

About halfway home, Sue decided to mention her friend who is “connected to the Vineyard Mgmt business”…she said it so nonchalantly that I didn’t have much hope but agreed we should call.  Long story short…we did…and he was…..and they could….and all I needed to do was bring the tarps!  HUGE relief.  All was set and we were to meet at 6:30am at our newest property, Rutherford Runway Vineyards.

Rutherford Runway Vineyards is located on South Whitehall Lane….neighbors to the Hornbergers.  The Moreland Family has a history of farming….almonds, bees, olives, grapes…and I have yet to get their detailed story but it sounds as if they are a motivated bunch.

Their property on South Whitehall Lane has 37 olive trees…most are Italian varietals with a few Sevillano trees mixed in.  They keep their trees beautifully manicured and low to the ground which eliminates the need for ladders.  One look at their trees and you know the Morelands are dedicated to the land.

NOW….onto the contest… are some facts pertaining to the possible yield…..

This is a very difficult yield to guess because it is our first year.  We can only go by what the owner tells us and how the trees look compared to other properties that we have.  We were told that the tonnage two years ago was about 1600 pounds…..there are 2000 pounds in a ton.

We were also told that there were a few trees that came into production from the last harvest so tonnage should be up.  Remember from Twin Sisters that there is an average of 30-35 gallons of oil per ton.

The olives had a little frost damage so we would lose some crop but very little….10% maybe.

You can see in the pictures that the olives were at a nice ripeness…50/50 to be conservative…and remember…the riper the olive, the more yield.

The olives will be milled using a Blade Press at McEvoy Ranch..thank you Shari!  A Blade will usually give you a little more yield then a Stone.

I think that is all the info that is pertinent….you can try to get some clues from the pictures below and then go to the comments section and make your guess!


Back to the day…………

I didn’t sleep well the night before as I had never used this crew before…and this was a new client…..and there was a possibility of rain…and the appointments available at the Mill were getting tight.  I tossed and turned and was grateful when my alarm went off at 5:30am.  I threw on layers of clothes and my trusted work boots and out the door I went with Matcha tea in hand.  I arrived at the property at 6:33am.  As I turned the corner of the drive, I felt the adrenaline rush of harvest.  There were trucks and cars and men….plenty of men putting on picking buckets and getting ready for the day. I felt an immediate sense of relief…this crew was professional and on task….I could sense it before I even got out of my car.

It was still too dark to begin so their leader, Eduardo, and I walked the property and noted the trees that were going to be picked.  He was very pleasant and assured me that it was all under control.  We discussed a few things and as the light of the day began to peek through, his team began to pick.

Hand picking is a whole different ballgame.  It takes a lot of time..and patience.  The tarps are laid below to soften the fall of the olives but the majority are picked and put right into the bucket.

Just as we discussed in the Twin Sister posts, it never ceases to amaze me how one tree will be turning black and the one next to it will be green…varietal type can make a difference but that’s not always the case.

Here are olives nice and purple…..

and the tree next door is nice and green…..

The Rutherford Runway estate is a very special property….and as the name implies…it sits right where the runway in Rutherford used to lie.  According to Jonathan Westerling, this small private airstrip ferried many of California’s famous winemakers in and out of the Napa Valley over several decades.  It was located on Inglenook Ranch Winery and constructed by John Daniel Jr., whose father managed the vineyard from 1919 – 1933.  According to a 2006 article by the California Farm Bureau Federation, John was a Stanford University graduate, aviator and talented businessman.  He worked closely with his friend, Robert Mondavi, to establish the basis for the Napa Valley wine industry.

My favorite part of working with new growers is listening to their story….this is no exception.  I look forward to learning more about who they are because in the limited discussions that we have had, it is apparent that they are a driven family…very motivated and serious about their land….and their crops….

Ryan is a budding winemaker, no pun intended, and anxious to release his first wine under the Rutherford Runway Vineyards label.  He will be releasing their “crown jewel”, Rutherford Runway Vineyard barrel fermented Sauvignon Blanc in the Spring.  He notes that it has lots of sur lie so it should be creamy with a nice mouthfeel and it’s showing bright acidity with flavors of lemon zest and green pear.  It sounds like a fun pairing with their extra virgin olive oil!

We picked the trees on the left side of the drive.

This is the back side of the driveway….grapes to the left…olives to the right….my kind of path.

First Bin has filled up.  Because these aren’t ventilated macro bins, we only fill them 3/4 full to prevent anaerobic fermentation….

We lost about 10% to the frost.  It’s pretty easy to see frost damages fruit….they are brown and slimy to the touch…see the brown ones in the bunch?  Those olives are left on the tree and then the crew comes back around and picks them off and throws them out.

All went without issue today…we arrived at McEvoy at about 2:30….ahead of schedule!

Unloading at McEvoy….you know the drill!

Bin one……

Bin 2…..

The day was done….the olives would be pressed the next morning so I jumped in my truck and headed home.

As I was driving out of the Ranch, I was taken back by this young buck grazing in the field right next to me.  I wish I could have gotten a better picture…he was so stunning.

As I came to the end of the driveway, I decided to stop and appreciate my surroundings before heading home.  I leaned against the fence post and couldn’t help but think about the day….all the effort that went into the olives…so many hands involved….so much care taken….so much respect shown…all as it should be but seldom is…
And then these cows caught my eye…the calf was running around having fun and mom was headed up the hill, looking back at her calf in a way all mothers could relate to…the calf was oblivious.  I had to smile.

Then I gazed at this view and I wondered….I wondered how it would be to live on so much land that you could never walk it all?  Or on land where you go for a hike in your backyard?  Or land with a beautiful barn that you converted to a house?

The ringing of my cell phone in the distance reminded me that my day was far from over.  It was time to head home……

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Bringing Winter into the Stores

by admin on December 2, 2010

Normally the olive harvest is over and the holidays begin….not this year…the holidays have begun!

I had one day that I could run out to gather vegetation for the stores.   Normally we go out hunting in the forest but this year, we didn’t have time.  I grabbed my good friend and fellow merchandiser, Sue Tipp, and we headed for the San Francisco Flower Market.

I had an idea of what I was looking for….simple, natural winter…and mossy branches….I am completely obsessed with mossy branches.

The Market is such an inspiration that by the time we had the expedition packed to the rim with branches et al, we had expanded into rosemary, magnolia, olive branches, and winterberry.   I could not wait to get back to celebrate the winter season in the stores.
I love the richness of Magnolia…..

A new obsession….winterberry.

These people were working so hard.  I wonder what it is like to work with beautiful flowers and plants everyday…..

They were very nice but never took their eyes off of what they were doing….can you imagine all the wreaths, garland, etc…that they have to make?

While I was checking out, these two types of branches were lying on eachother…I was captured by the beauty.   I pictured them lying together on the stucco bar in St. Helena….I resisted for a bit but finally gave in.

The market was beginning to close so we added some more things…a few wreaths for St. Helena windows, three bundles of olive branches, and rosemary.

Sue making the last haul to the car…..

We could not have fit another branch into the Expedition.

We were so quick that we decided to have lunch in the Mission District…..Gracias Madre, a Vegan Mexican Restaurant.   It is a sister restaurant of one of my favorite haunts,  Cafe Gratitude.  It was delicious!  I was feeling a bit under the weather so I had their organic Ginger Mint Tea with my meal….highly recommended no matter what your weather.

Today was a great diversion from the harvest….and I can’t wait to transform the stores into warm and cozy celebrations of the winter season.

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