This Spanish variety is currently the most planted olive in California. It is the mainstay of the super-high-density olive production system, a method that allows a high degree of mechanization while harvesting the olives. Arbequina produces a mild, fruity oil, characterized by almond and tropical notes when it is ripe. Harvested greener, it is grassy, with a little pungency but usually has minimal bitterness. Traditional style Spanish Arbequina is very fruity, ripe and soft.
This variety is grown in the super-high-density system in California (see Arbequina). It is Spanish in origin, but rarely seen there as a single varietal oil. It is becoming more popular in California for its bright herbaceous profile.
Ascolano (Or Ascolana)
Traditionally grown for table olives, this variety is used to make oil as well. It has an apricot/stone fruit flavor that is very distinctive. The ripe oil has a strongly tropical note. This variety originated in Italy.
This is one of the main varieties in most Tuscan blends. It is a central Italian variety that yields exceptionally fine fruity oil. The ideal harvest is about halfway between ripe and green, giving it a green, grassy and artichoke quality with floral and nutty undertones and excellent balance of fruitiness, bitterness and pungency.
This Greek variety is the third olive found in super-high-density production. It is highly prized for its extremely aromatic oil. It has a distinctive varietal note reminiscent of banana, green or ripe, depending on the maturity of the olives.
This is another one of the varieties found in a Tuscan blend. This central Italian variety produces a sweet, delicate oil with a cinnamon-spice note. It can be harvested quite green for a bright, peppery flavor profile.
This is the dominant table olive in California. However, it is also being used to make olive oil in styles ranging from very green to very ripe. This variety is from Spain, and is widely planted worldwide for table olive production.
California’s “native” olive. The Mission olive can be used to make either an early harvest or late harvest style oil, or something in between. The greener style will have piney, herbaceous notes with distinct pungency and bitterness. The ripe style Missions tend to be very round and buttery, with tropical/pineapple flavors.
This Spanish variety is best known for its role in the bottom of a Martini glass. Although predominantly used for pickling, it makes a superb olive oil with a very characteristic flavor of grassy and herbaceous notes.
This northern Italian variety has recently garnered a lot of attention in the California premium olive oil world. The traditional Italian oil from this variety is a late harvest, very delicate style. The California Taggiascas tend to be earlier harvest and have a much more complex and assertive profile. It is grassy, floral and well-balanced.