Harvest News

Harvest is in full swing and the outlook for great antioxidant numbers, wonderful aromas, and nuanced flavors is very promising. However there is one exception, for the first time the Barouni crop did not produce sufficient fruit to create a Barouni varietal for next year. This means that once we sell out of this year’s Barouni we will not have it again until 2016. So all you Barouni lovers may want to stock up.

This happenstance is not unusual in the uncertain world of farming. This year the crop of Italy’s highest quality region of Tuscany is down 50% due to unseasonably high temperatures during bloom, unusually wet weather during the growing season encouraging the olive fly, and an unexpected early hail storm during the harvest season. Accordingly bulk prices from Italy are up 50%. Unfortunately, the hardest hit farms were the small high quality producers. For all of you who enjoy buying high quality Italian imported extra virgin olive oil be sure you are getting the real thing this coming year, it will be much more expensive than this past year.

Luckily, we do not anticipate any increases in our prices this coming year.

Two New Polyphenols Found in Apollo Olive Oil

The Harvard School of Public Health held their “Mediterranean Diet and Workplace Health” conference on September 27 and 28 with attendees from all over the world. One focus was the role healthy fats play in the Mediterranean diet and in particular real extra virgin olive oil. Researchers said they identified two previously unknown polyphenols for the first time while testing Apollo Olive Oil’s array of polyphenols. More research needs to be done to discover what role these two new polyphenols play but it points to the abundance of polyphenols found in Apollo Olive Oil.

The researchers further found that polyphenols were much more effective at reducing LDL oxidation working as a whole rather than working alone. This illustrates that whole foods work more synergistically to produce beneficial effects than extracts of ‘active’ ingredients.

The researchers are trying to develop a simple, quick, and  inexpensive test to identify olive oils with high polyphenol levels. One reason for this is that consumers are starting to ask for high polyphenol oils more frequently even though these oils are a bit more bitter and pungent. This is good news for us because we base our entire approach on the healthiest oil is also the best tasting.

14th Annual North Yuba Harvest Festival

14th Annual North Yuba Harvest Festival

Once again we are proud to sponsor this year’s harvest festival on September 27th and 28th, 10am to 4pm. It will be held at the Alcouffe Community Center at 9185 Marysville Rd., Oregon House, CA 95962. This is the biggest food and wine event in the North Yuba foothills.

North Yuba has received international recognition as a premium wine and olive oil region with local producers garnering coveted medals at major state, national and international competitions.

There will be over 60 vendors this year, including food stalls offering everything from haute cuisine to hot dogs, arts & crafts, antiques, Farmers Market, coffee bistro, and live musical entertainment. Ample children’s activities guarantee a day of family fun.

We hope to see you there!

The Natural, Easy Way To Reduce Blood Pressure

One of the easiest and most enjoyable ways to use extra virgin olive oil is to drizzle it over cooked vegetables. Not only does it improve the taste of vegetables but it also improves our ability to absorb the vitamins and antioxidants found in them.

Well there is more good news. A recent study published in the journal PNAS found drizzling extra virgin olive oil over vegetables that contain nitrites forms nitro fatty acids. Vegetables that contain nitrites are mainly the green leafy types like spinach, wild greens and root vegetables. Nitro fatty acids are known to inhibit an enzyme that contributes to high blood pressure. This is a good example of how whole foods and healthy diets work together to promote good health.

A Phenol-Rich Breakfast Can Reduce Inflammation

A study recently published in Food Chemistry adds valuable information on understanding how phenols reduce inflammation and found that adding phenol-rich olive oil to breakfast successfully lowered the chronic low-grade inflammation associated with metabolic syndrome, and which is a precursor to obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure. It is estimated that over 30 percent of all adults in the USA have metabolic syndrome.

The study gave 49 metabolic syndrome patients about 2 ½ tablespoons (40 ml) of high, medium, or low levels of phenol olive oil for breakfast. Only the high phenol olive oil (398 ppm) neutralized pro-inflammatory gene expression and reduced pro-inflammatory cytokines in the blood plasma. So phenol-rich olive oil has a beneficial effect on both our genes and blood profiles that other extra virgin olive oils may not have.

All our Apollo Olive Oils oils have well over 500 ppm of polyphenols, and some have nearly 1000 ppm. We recommend drizzling Mistral over toast, oatmeal, or eggs in the morning which, according to the study, will help to reduce inflammation. It also it makes breakfast taste better!

A Seasoned Farmer Delivers a Beautiful Frantoio

We at Apollo Olive Oil have had the very fortunate experience of meeting and being able to work with some of California’s most dedicated and knowledgeable olive farmers. At 81 years old and still going strong, Antonio Isern brings 60 years of hard won wisdom coupled with intelligent innovation to his organic olive farm. He is pioneering a medium density planting scheme that uses organic methods and also allows the olive tree to blossom into its natural form. Other high density planting methods use severe pruning methods, pesticides, and chemical fertilizing. Antonio’s method could bring a Renaissance of olive farming to California that is profitable, sustainable, and organic.

Antonio also brings his internationally sought after consulting experience to help us with the orchards we manage. He specializes in a pruning technique that helps reduce the alternate bearing tendency of olive trees. This helps the olive farmer to have a more consistent production, the challenge that faces all farmers. We are grateful to have such a great resource in our own backyard.

Frantoio is one of the main varieties that Antonio grows on his farm. It is a very vigorous tree full of vitality. For the first time, we are fortunate this year to be able to offer a very limited supply of Antonio’s Frantoio of 510 bottles only available on our web site. This oil is 100% Frantoio. It is a medium bodied and complex olive oil with hints of fresh greens and a light walnut astringency. It is also very rich in antioxidants. It is a very earthy oil with a medium intensity which goes well with vegetarian dishes, fresh mushrooms, and light soups.


A Taste of Tuscany from California

Tuscany is famous for its beautiful olive orchards and exceptional olive oil. For years now, we have a special relationship with someone here in Northern California who has a small, Tuscan-style grove that delivers one of the very best oils we mill. The grove, located in the cool, rolling foothills of Petaluma, is planted with a mix of Tuscan varieties – Frantoio, Maurino, Leccino, and a few Pendolino trees. The olives are very, very small, and the fresh oil trickles out of the mill with an incredible dark emerald color and stunning vegetal aromas.

Sam Saltonstall, seen here with his son, Sam, and Gianni, is one of our hero-growers. He carefully tends his trees using sustainable, organic methods, and is so strongly committed to getting the best oil possible, that – even now at 80 years old – each evening, he loads up the day’s harvest and sets out at 4 am to drive his olives to our mill, arriving four hours later so that they can be milled immediately on what he has found to be the best mill around. He unloads and returns home straight away to get another load of olives to us the next day.

This year we are lucky and honored to offer his oil in our bottles, under the Gold Series “Tuscan” label. If you are tempted to experience Sam’s oil, the limited production of 720 bottles is available only on our web site.

2014 Oils Win More Gold

2014 Oils Win More Gold!

We are proud to announce once again, that our new oils have placed very well in this year’s competitions. Since Apollo’s first production 13 years ago, our oils have consistently shown exceptionally well. Reviewing all the awards from past competitions, we found that in the prestigious US competitions our oils have been awarded far more golds than silvers, and been recognized as Best of Class or Best of Show 50% of the time. And that’s not counting top recognitions in various European competitions over the years!

Apollo Extra Virgin Olive Oil Awards, 2001 – 2014 in US competitions
7 Best of Show
6 Best of Class
41 Gold
32 Silver

The 2014 competition results just came in, and here they are: internationally, from Italy, New York, Los Angeles, and locally, from Napa Valley:

Biol – International Competition for Organic Olive Oils in Bari, Italy
Mistral – Extra Gold
Sierra – Gold

International Olive Oil Competition in NY
Mistral – Gold
Sierra – Gold

LA County International Olive Oil Competition
Mistral – Gold
Frantoio – Gold
Sierra – Silver
Barouni – Silver
Tuscan – Silver

Napa Valley Olive Oil Competition
Mistral – Best of Class, Gold
Sierra – Silver
Barouni – Silver
Frantoio – Silver
Tuscan – Bronze

Who Needs Milk?

A recent study out of Madrid suggests that olive oil is good for our bones. A two year study was conducted which revealed that people who consumed higher amounts of olive oil also had higher amounts of a compound called osteocalcin. It is thought that the presence of osteocalcin is an indicator of stronger bones because it helps prevent insulin resistance which is associated with weaker bones.

Another study from researchers in Athens found that a diet high in olive oil and low in red meat was linked to healthier bone density in women. The beneficial effect is thought to be caused by the high antioxidant levels in real extra virgin olive oil. Yet another reason to eat the real thing.

Have GMO’s infiltrated the olive oil industry?

Thankfully, the short answer is no. GMO stands for genetically modified organisms. These are plants and animals that have been genetically modified by scientists to produce favorable traits. They have many people concerned because the most common trait that is engineered into these plants is to resist pesticides so that more pesticides can be used to control weeds and pests.

The only known GMO experiment for olive trees was started at the University of Tuscia near Rome. It was an experiment to develop trees that could resist infections. In 2012 the Italian government ordered all the trees destroyed to comply with a 2002 law that banned field experiments involving GMO plants.

Olive trees have escaped the GMO craze because they do not lend themselves to intensive agricultural methods. Also, they have a tremendous biodiversity consisting of hundreds of cultivars so desirable traits can be found with traditional methods of cross breeding and grafting.

The absence of GMO’s and its highly unlikely development in the future is another reason to love olive oil. Almost all other vegetable oils, including corn oil, soy oil, cotton seed oil and many others, contain some GMO’s.