The 2015 Olive Odyssey – Part 1

by Michael H. Imwalle

Wayne Sherman, mills steward. Photo by Mike Imwalle.

After a very low yield of fruit in 2014, the Mission grove, Mill grove, and Rasmussen grove are producing nicely this year at the Santa Inés Mission Mills. Today Santa Inés Mission Mills Steward Wayne Sherman and I began the first olive picking of the 2015 season. Despite the fact it was well over 100⁰, we picked a small quantity of green olives destined to be cured as table olives. With the warm weather of the last couple of weeks the fruit is beginning to ripen faster than we anticipated and much of the fruit has already turned yellow/gold, and some are starting to turn purple.  Wayne and I spent the morning sorting through the largest, greenest Mission Olive variety. Wayne is going to prepare them in three flavors of brine using the cracked Sicilian style of curing. Look forward to tasting these beauties at Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation functions early in 2016!

Rasmussen grove of olive trees. Photo by Mike Imwalle..

The remainder of the fruit will be picked during the upcoming annual Volunteer Olive Picking Day on October 18th at the Santa Inés Mission Mills property. We anticipate yield of at least two tons of fruit, which will be milled into oil at nearby Figueroa Farms. The olives should yield fifty to sixty cases of very high quality extra virgin olive oil to be sold to support the development of the Santa Inés Mission Mills property. We should have Olio Nuovo in the gift shop by Thanksgiving this year! Olio Nuovo is bottled unfiltered, immediately after crushing, and has an intense grassy, peppery fresh flavor 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 will be available for a limited time.

Mission grove of olive trees. Photo by Mike Imwalle.

We need your help! In addition to olive pickers on our upcoming volunteer day, we also need help doing general maintenance around the historic mills and reservoirs. If you are interested in picking olives or the preservation of the Santa Inés Mission Mills at this year’s Volunteer Olive Picking Day please contact Christa Clark Jones at (805) 966-1279 or by email at  You can get more information and directions to the site at SBTHP’s website here. Stay tuned for 2015 Olive Odyssey Part 2 to see pictures of the Olive Picking Day and find out how you can order your 2015 Santa Inés Mission Mill Olio Nuovo!

Mike Imwalle with olives destined for brining. Photo by Mike Imwalle.

Mike Imwalle is the Archaeologist and staff olio nuovo taster at the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation.


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