Paso Robles (Central Coast)
A graduate of Cal Poly (SLO), Art returned to the Central Coast for “retirement” after 40 years away and two successful careers. The first was a 26-year Air Force career where he rose to the rank of Colonel, and the second, a 15-year leadership career at Walt Disney Imagineering, where he formed teams that conceived, developed and built the #1 theme park in the world.
Art is now well into his third and perhaps most challenging career as a farmer and rancher. In 2002 he and his wife, Lynn, bought a wonderful property on the southeast side of Paso Robles. By 2003, they had planted nearly 3,700 olive trees and acquired a herd of alpaca for breeding and harvesting of their fiber.
ABOUT MY GROVE
The 3,700 tree olive grove is mostly Arbequina with a few Mission and Manzanillo trees. Planted at 400 trees per acre, spacing is 8 x15 feet to support hand-harvesting and hand-pruning. There are east-, south-, and west-facing slopes with variable soils and elevation differences of 70 feet, creating several micro-climates producing distinctly different intensities from robust to mild.
Capturing these distinct intensities and blending to achieve targeted flavor profiles that differentiate Olio Nuevo products has been the creative goal. Sustainability is also a key to the farm. Solar-electric drives the well pumps and motors to feed to orchard and the alpaca, drip-irrigation is employed mainly at night, hand-pruning is mulched in place, and raptors are being used for rodent control.
The current growing season has produced a new challenge. The orchard is experiencing enormous vigor but very little fruit. Perhaps it is the persistent drought and the buildup of salts, insufficient winter chill hours, unfavorable winds, heat, and cold in this past spring, need for nutrition, or a combination of all. The absence of fruit has allowed continued pruning and weeding to minimize water use and plant nutrition is being addressed to promote new growth.
MY PERFECT DAY
Art and Lynn are blessed with many perfect days, each begun with a great cup of coffee and conversation to plan the day. A brief walk in the orchard as the sun rises is consistently inspirational. After feeding the alpaca herd and two ranch dogs, Art might conduct a farm tour explaining the nuances of breeding alpaca and producing extra virgin olive oils, while Lynn pursues her creative ideas as an artist in her on-site studio. Each perfect day ends in similar fashion with a glass or two of locally-produced wine to celebrate the setting sun and end of another perfect day.
WHERE TO FIND MY OIL
Subject to inventory availability, Olio Nuevo is available throughout California at the We Olive stores, a franchise which has grown considerably from a one-store startup in Paso Robles. It is also available at Whole Foods (San Luis Obispo) and numerous local outlets such as Avila Valley Barn and Jack Creek Farms. Dean and DeLuca have carried Olio Nuevo nationally with the most frequent orders from their two New York City stores. But, most of Olio Nuevo’s national web-based business has been developed through tasting demonstrations and sales at numerous Paso Robles wineries, such as Justin, Denner, Eberle, San Antonio, Cass, and Le Cuvier. In addition, Olio Nuevo participates in annual events such as the Paso Robles Olive Festival, Earth Day Food and Wine Festival, and the Taste of Templeton.