Out amongst the vines and fields of strawberries in Santa Maria, the Clayton family is growing up something a little different. Their 6.5 acres of olive trees serve as the growing grounds for the oils they produce for Santa Maria Olive Co.
“We are proud to be the first olive farm in the Santa Maria Valley,” said owner Lourdez Clatyon, who runs Santa Maria Olive Co. with the help of her husband.
The small but mighty ranch hosts Arbequina, Picudo, Koroneiki, Arbosana, Mission, and Manzanillo varietals of olives, which are then harvested and blended together to create some of the best extra-virgin ultra-premium olive oil in the region.
2015 marked the first bottling harvest for Santa Maria Olive Co.. Using traditional harvesting methods, their full time agronomist hand selected the olives to be bottled under the Santa Maria Olive Co. label. Impressive quality oils were produced, with Free Fatty Acid (FFA) levels well below the industry standard.
Free fatty acid speaks to the condition of the fruit at the time of crush. The higher the FFA the greater the indication of poor quality fruit such as damaged, overripe, insect infestation, overheating during production or too much of a delay between harvest and crush. Based on IOOC (International Olive Oil Council) Standards, the maximum limit for free fatty acid in extra virgin olive oil is 0.8g per 100g or .8%.
Through analysis with Baker Wine & Grape Analysis, Santa Maria Olive Co. 2015 harvest saw incredibly low FFA levels. Their Early Harvest Tuscan Blend returned with a low 0.25 Free Fatty Acids (% as oleic acid), the Arbequina returned with a 0.09 Free Fatty Acids (% as oleic acid), and the Late Harvest Special Blend returned with an amazing .06 Free Fatty Acids (% as oleic acid).
These three varieties of oil represent the current offerings available for purchase through Santa Maria Olive Oil Co.
Arbequina is a mild and fruity Spanish varietal of oil, with a slight bitterness and a light buttery taste. It finishes with a lovely and nutty almond flavor.
The Early Harvest Tuscan Blend is a field blend of Italian varietals of olives. It’s flavor is green, crisp and fresh. And described as “A crescendo of flavors from green apple to artichoke, with a strong, pungent, sharp finish”.
The Late Harvest Special Blend is another field blend of Italian varietals, and noteworthy for it’s incredibly low acidity level of .06. It’s flavor is mild, a little buttery, fruity, with a slight hint of bitterness. It finishes with a light peppery flavor.
Santa Maria Olive Co. Owner Lourdez Clayton is proud of the production from their first harvest. “We’re very confident that the 2015 olive oils are some of the very best available in the Central Coast of California and beyond,” she said.
Not only are the oils great quality, the company is also using their oils to support a great cause. They are donating 100% of proceeds from their 2015 harvest to local veterans.
“We have a lot of honor and respect for our Veterans,” Clayton said, “and honor them with our undying gratitude. We’re excited to be able to make this contribution to those who have given so much for us and our country.”
The Clayton family has a history of giving back to local veterans, having hosted a local Veteran’s Day BBQ for the past 15 years at the Veterans Memorial Building in Santa Maria. The thousands of dollars raised from these events have been given to local organizations supporting our Veterans including Wounded Warrior Project, Service Dog Program, Chapter 982, Vietnam Veterans, and more.
Clayton says their family is excited to use Santa Maria Olive Co. as another platform to help give back to the community, and encourages other local businesses to do their part as well to help local Veterans.
“We hope to encourage other businesses in Santa Maria to get involved in anyway they can to help our veterans,” Clayton said. “Our veterans need to know they have support within their community.”
Santa Maria Olive Co. is located in Santa Maria, CA. Their tasting venue is located at 400 E. Orange Street in Santa Maria. You can learn more about the company and purchase their products by visiting santamariaoliveco.com.