It's October, that means olive harvest time in Tuscany. For the 6th time in 11 years, we traveled to a farm near the village of Castellina in Chianti to partake in the annual ritual of turning the fruit of the olive into liquid gold with our good friends Francesca and Matteo at Pornanino.
The Lombardi family estate at Azienda Agricola Pornanino has approximately 4,000 olive trees in the Chianti area of Tuscany. When Franco Lombardi bought the property in the early 1990’s, the farm had been neglected for a very long time. In fact, because wine is Chianti’s true cash cow, there were more gnarly old grape vines on the land than olive trees. These vines had to be dug up, ripped out, and carried away to make room for the olive trees. Franco planted many of the current trees himself; so most of the olive trees now used to produce Pornanino oil are quite young. Italy has more than 470 cultivars (varieties) of olives that are cultivated for commercial use. From this seemingly bewildering selection, Franco settled on four principal types of Tuscan to produce his distinctive olive oil: Frantoio, Pendolino, Moraiolo and Leccino. Olive trees generally do not bear fruit until they’re 5 to 8 years old, and are usually at least 12 years old before they start seriously bearing fruit. They don’t reach their full development until they’re around 20 years old, but once they do, their productive life can go on for decades.
Pornanino Extra-Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) is a 100% guaranteed top quality, pure unblended natural product, from untreated olive trees, free of chemical fertilizers and preservatives. The olive groves are located at an altitude of 400 meters above sea level, to ensure healthy, tasty olives and are situated in a unique spot that shields them from the dreaded olive fruit fly, avoiding the common use of pesticides to keep the pesky fly from destroying the year’s crop.
Once harvested by hand, the olives are cold pressed in a traditional stone mill in order to preserve the olives' perfect taste. The Lombardi family personally manages each step of the process. They care for the olive groves year-round, hand pick the olives in November, cold press the olives as soon as they’re picked in their privately owned oil mill ("frantoio"), and bottle the oil in their on- site bottling facility.
The Lombardi family treasures their Pornanino extra-virgin olive oil for its nutritional and salutary virtues. Extra -virgin olive oil is the most digestible of the edible fats, and it helps to assimilate vitamins A, D and K. It contains the so- called essential acids that slow down the aging process helping vascular and intestinal functions. As totally committed and enthusiastic olive oil producers, the Lombardi family takes great pride in the quality of their olive oil. Their liquid gold is not sold in stores, but is shipped directly to a select clientele of gourmet friends around the world.
Start the video below to see the process!!