Spain is producing about half the world’s olive oil, but for the United States, most of its olive oil is coming from California Olive Ranch. The massive Corning, California ranch is the biggest producer of olive oil in the country, having managed to mainstream the production of harvesting olives for oil. Most European markets — among them Spain, Italy, and Portugal — are hand harvesting each olive, or shaking them onto the ground and harvesting that way.
“We’re all about catching the fruit before it hits the dirt,” director of farming at California Olive Ranch Matt Lohse tells me. Lohse and his team are constantly on top of the maturity of the olive, waiting for the perfect time to harvest. When the time is right, they’re using a giant harvester that picks the olives before transporting them to the company’s nearby mill. It all helps the impressive production at California Olive Ranch yield a product that’s more consistent and widely available.