The olive grove at the Santa Ines Mission Mills. Photo by Christa Clark Jones
SBTHP holds an annual community olive picking days at the Mills property, usually in between late October and early December, depending on the ripening cycle for that year’s crop. The event always includes a free lunch for volunteers and a tour of the Mills property. October 28, 2017, more than 50 volunteers joined a crew of six professional olive pickers to pick the 2015 Santa Inés Mission Mills olive crop. Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation staff, Board, and community volunteers gathered on a mild Sunday morning to pick the remaining Manzanillo and Mission variety olives on the State Park property. Combined with the Italian varietals picked from the Rasmussen and Mill groves we harvested more than three and a half tons, our largest harvest ever! On the following morning, our olives were crushed into 121 gallons of Extra Virgin olive oil.
Santa Inés Mission Mills Olive Oil
In the early 1990s former owners of the mills, Harry and Ellen Knill, planted 78 Manzanillo variety olive trees along the perimeter of the property. In 2007 the Santa Inés Mission Mill Committee and the SBTHP Board of Directors endorsed the idea of planting additional olive trees on the property to interpret the mission period agricultural history of the site as well as provide an income stream to help manage the existing cultural and natural resources, and for development of a future state historic park. In July and August of 2007 crews and volunteers planted more than 2,400 olive trees on the SBTHP property including Mission, Manzanillo, Grappolo, Lucca, and Arbequina varieties.
Immediately after they are picked, we send the olives to nearby Figueroa Farms in Santa Ynez for crushing. The olives are dumped into a hopper, then up a conveyor to the processing plant. First, the fruit is run through a powerful blower that removes twigs and leaves. Next, it is run through the crusher, which grinds the olives and the pits into a paste. A machine called a malaxer separates the liquid (water and oil) from the olive paste, and then the oil is separated from the water in a centrifuge. The solid waste is returned to the olive groves for fertilizer and the oil is pumped into barrels for transportation and storage.
Santa Inés Mission Mills Olive oil is bottled less than five miles away at the Figueroa Farms processing facility where the fruit is crushed. The Santa Inés Mission Mills Olive oil is available year-round at the gift shop at El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Park, and on the SBTHP website.
Santa Inés Mission Mills Olio Nuovo
The first twenty cases of our 2015 “Olio Nuovo” or new oil is here! Olio Nuovo is the first press of the season. It is bottled unfiltered, immediately after crushing, and has an intense grassy, peppery fresh flavor. It is loaded with polyphenols, making Olio Nuovo the healthiest oil available from each harvest. Produced from a blend of Arbeqina, Grappalo, Lucca, Manzanillo, and Mission olives, this special early release is available for a limited time just in time for the Holidays. Order yours online or pick some up in the museum shop at El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Park. It sells for $15.00 retail ($12.00 for SBHTP members) and $108.00 per case of 12 wholesale.