I had what I think is a rare opportunity the other day. I had gone down to the City over the weekend to see an old friend and to attend the Macintosh Expo.  The Expo was a dog and I don’t want to talk about it. But, I did make a somewhat impromptu call to Criveller Group in Healdsburg. They were very gracious on such short notice and on the way home, I stopped in for a chat with Bruno Criveller, the owner. Bruno is an oenologist (a person who studies wine) and provides high quality processing equipment for the wine and olive industry.

I am gearing up to build my own processing space and purchase my own equipment. Speaking with an expert seemed like a good idea. Bruno, with his extensive knowledge (and thick Italian accent), proved to be who I was looking for. I had been looking about on the web, but I really wanted equipment and support that were locally based – when something goes wrong, you don’t want to reach across continents for support in Italy. Criveller Group offers fine Italian equipment, the Oliomio line, with local (more or less) support. This line of olive processing equipment is considered most appropriate for the small to medium grower – and, it turns out, this stuff can be quite expensive.

There are so many choices when launching a processing adventure like an olive press. If you are a small home grower, there’s not much economic point in purchasing your own mill – it’ll be garbage to begin with, and, what’s the point, when you can take your fresh olives to someone else’s mill (24 hours is the magic number, but 2 hours from tree to press is your real goal). Besides my own orchard, there are quite a few small olive growers in my rural area and this idea seems worth pursuing. If you are a small farm, the larger commercial presses are just too big and expensive for your needs – but along comes Oliomio, an Italian company that has created a line of compact processing equipment targeted at the smaller farm. I have about 3.5 acres of olives just now and plan to expand to another 6 acres :). Between my own olives and the possible olives of my neighbors, I am considering a mill that will handle about 150 kilograms/hour – this should handle my product and give me some expansion room to handle more of my own acreage and some of my neighbors.

I do feel a little constrained and a little nervous about this equipment sizing. I feel that I need to have control over my oil processing, so, I am pretty sure that I will need my own press. You might wonder why, with the expense, a small farm might want to purchase at all – why not just use someone else’s equipment? The answer involves only two words: quality and control.

With your own equipment, you can predict and order the harvest much more closely and you can be totally on top of any adulteration to your oil – no oxidation, no heat. The way I look at it, artisan oils don’t come in someone else’s bottle.

The machinery is expensive (expensive enough to not want to talk about it, gulp) so I really need to know that I am going to use it – in order to be able to recoup the investment. In a couple of weeks, my daughter and I will be attending a local gathering of olive growers – the McEvoy people will make a presentation and we will prune some olive trees. I was hoping to ask around at the meeting and get some idea of who might want local processing.

Talking with Bruno helped to clarify many of these issues – it was well worth reaching out to him. As I mentioned, I believe I had a rare opportunity in meeting someone like Bruno. He is an honest guy with a quality product. Sounds simple, eh? Well, shop around a little, then tell me that an honest guy is that easy to find…

Meanwhile, I will be doing business with Bruno.