Cheers to Olive You, Val Verde!

Quiz
(yes, our first blog comes with a quiz, and it’s not about wine)

What is the best age at which to use your olive oil?

When it is:
A)   immediately pressed
B)   at least one year old
C)   aged to five years
D)   like a fine wine with high tannins: generally speaking, the older, the better

The answer is: A

The fresher your olive oil, the better it tastes and the better it is for you.  After one year on the store’s shelf, or your own, it starts to lose its phytonutrients, break down and become rancid.

So what is the best way to get quality olive oil?  Just like any fresh ingredient: buy local.

That is exactly what Thomas and Michael Qualia are preparing to make possible at Val Verde Winery in Del Rio.  Not only were they pioneers in the Texas wine world (as the oldest winery in Texas and the only winery in Texas from 1949-1976) they are now helping to pave the way for a new industry: fresh-pressed, local olive oil.  With a grove of 10 year old trees on the property, they saw the potential of a new product to compliment their wines and began to expand their plantings.

Fall of 2011, they experimented with a harvest from their established trees and entered in the Artisan category at the First Annual Texas Olive Oil Tasting and Showcase.  Out of the gate, Val Verde took 3rd place out of 9 entries, a promising beginning.  They were then featured in the PBS special “El Camino Olive Oil Trail” which aired January 7th on KRLN Channel 9, bringing attention to this new and exciting wave of agriculture in Texas and Mexico.

Val Verde’s newly planted trees are expected to produce mature fruit this year; 250 of those trees will be ready for harvest in fall of 2012.

When asked how much will be sold to the public, Michael answered, “Whatever our family doesn’t use, we’ll sell.”

And they are well on their way.  With 500 trees in the ground and an award already under their belt, the stage is set for an excellent first year.  The olives will be hand picked (with a harvest party following for volunteers) and pressed immediately after, creating the freshest product available.  It will be a worth a trip to the winery; these bottles are bound to sell quickly!

Michael and Tommy Qualia

For more information on Texas olive oil, visit texasoliveoilcouncil.org

To learn more about the production “El Camino Olive Oil Trail”, visit elcaminoolivetrail.com

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