From Blackberry Bushes to Olive Trees…
As a mom and the daughter of a farmer, Natalia Fritz has always appreciated the health benefits, locally sourced production, and top quality of the ingredients she uses in her cooking. So almost 10 years ago, when the idea came to her and her husband of replacing the overgrown blackberry bushes at Fritz Winery, it is not surprising that she and Clay came up with the idea of planting olive trees. The idea was not only to prevent potential vineyard diseases but also to be able to extract excellent extra virgin olive oil.
Meeting the Family High-Quality Standards
Producing top quality olive oil requires careful consideration and planning. Having a good grasp on the wine industry, Natalia and Clay knew the mission was clear. Only the best would do. How would this affect the land? What is required to make the best? With a highly specialized consultant on board, the process began with selecting tree species, planting procedure, and harvesting schedules, that would showcase the characteristics of the surrounding land.
Aromas & Notes Deliberation
A good wine is judged by its aromas, complexity, and intensity. So is olive oil. Similarly, many descriptive words that are used to describe the taste of wine can also be used in describing olive oil. Fruity, buttery, spicy, just to name a few. By extensively blind tasting oils that they felt represented them well, they fell in love with a style that became Olio D’Natalia.
Time for Planting
After careful planning, the time came for action. One hundred olive trees were planted, which consisted of a blend of Spanish and Italian varietals. This combination was intended to yield a creamy and robust oil with a hint of green spicy undertones. Natalia wanted it to be both light and luscious on a salad and brave enough to impose some flavor on heartier dishes. High standards come from a family of high standards.
Good olive oil takes time. Six years later for the first bottling harvest, to be exact. The first harvest gave a small yield of about six gallons which created the first five cases. After that, one hundred additional fruit-bearing trees were planted to increase the total production. The dream was becoming a reality.
The Entire Fritz Family is in on This…
Olive harvesting is a process that gathers all the family, including Natalia’s kids: Cannon (13), Bianca (10), and Leo (7). They are no strangers to hard work. Natalia has instilled in them a love to help out at the family winery property when they aren’t at school. It has become a family tradition for Natalia’s kids to spend two full days every year helping with the harvest! To get the best results in terms of fragrance and fruit maturity, the olive harvest is done manually, usually in mid-late October, about two weeks after the grape harvesting is complete.
From a Delicate Fruit to Extra Virgin Olive Oil
After the hard work of planning, planting, harvesting, and pressing, bottling and labeling are right around the corner. This can be an afterthought for some, but attention to detail is crucial! To guarantee to extract the best fruit aromas as well as obtaining the high quality of extra virgin olive oil, the pressing is handled right after the olive harvest. The oil is then allowed to lie for several months so that the solids may settle to the bottom before bottling, which usually takes place in late March or early April.The first harvest was so small that Natalia was able to handle bottling and labeling herself. Although the production is too high to do themselves today, the family is able to take their olives to a local press for processing. Natalia prides herself on being involved in every step, every year. On that note, the Fritz family proudly bottled October’s harvest last week!
Olio D’Natalia is Perfect for Nearly Any Recipe
Natalia herself is using extra virgin olive oil in the majority of her recipes… And what could be better than using an oil produced locally on the family winery property, using as great a care to obtain results with that extra virgin olive oil, as is used regarding grape varietals, harvest, and pressing?
In my opinion, Olio D’Natalia is an everyday must-have for food lovers who like to cook healthy and tasty sweet or salty recipes. Don’t forget to share your next “foodie” experiences with us! We love to hear from you!