Bottles of 2022 Olio Nuovo olive oil lined up on the right in front of a wooden box that says UC Davis Olive Oil.
2022 Olio Nuovo olive oil.

UC Davis Olive Center to Release ‘Olio Nuovo’ Olive Oil

Campus-grown olive oil with robust and bold flavor set to be released this month

There’s a type of olive oil that may lift spirits during the cold winter season. It’s called “olio nuovo,” which in Italian means “the new oil.” This oil is immediately bottled after the olives are harvested and milled, making it one of the freshest extra virgin olive oils you can get.

The UC Davis Olive Center has produced a limited-edition batch of olio nuovo made from olives harvested at the university’s Wolfskill Experimental Orchards near Winters. The center is holding an Olio Nuovo Festival on Dec. 10 to celebrate the release of its newest product. Various events will be held at the downtown UC Davis store and on campus, including tastings and workshops.

A mixture of green, black and purple olives that were harvested in October 2022.

Join Us to Celebrate Our Newest Olive Oil

What: 2022 Olio Nuovo Festival
When: Saturday, Dec. 10

-Tasting and Olive Oil for Purchase
Noon-1 p.m., UC Davis Downtown Store, 630 2nd St. Free.

-Tasting and Food Pairing
1-2:30 p.m., RMI Sensory Building lobby. Free.

-Olive Oil Classes:
“Olive Trees in Your Garden: Basics of Planting and Care” and “Olive Oil Appreciation: How to Select and Enjoy It,” 2:30-3:30 p.m., Sensory Theater at RMI Sensory Building, 392 Old Davis Rd., Davis. $20/person for both classes. Space is limited. Register online.

Javier Fernandez-Salvador, executive director of the Olive Center, said students participating in the center’s new apprenticeship program helped create this year’s olio nuovo, from growing and harvesting olives to designing the product.

“Students were involved with every single aspect of it this year,” Fernandez-Salvador said. “It’s fantastic.”

This year served as a pilot for the apprenticeship program, which started with one student and grew to four. The goal of the program is to teach undergraduate students a wide range of topics, including field management, irrigation practices and pest control. Fernandez-Salvador credits the improvements in field management practices, which he and the students recently implemented, for a great harvest this year.

“For our medium density orchard, we almost doubled our yield over last year,” he said. “This was our third year for our super-high-density orchard, in which we also doubled the yield for some cultivars.”

Students also got hands-on practice this year at harvest time – picking olives, milling and bottling olive oil. Fernandez-Salvador said all the milling and bottling was completed last week, with an in-kind collaboration from local businesses including Ternero Olive Oil in Lincoln, which trained students on the bottling process and allowed them to utilize their bottling line. The students also applied by hand all 800 of the olio nuovo bottle labels.

Fernandez Salvador hopes the apprenticeship program can expand to have at least six students participating for a two-year cycle.

“We’re seeking industry support because we want to train the next generation of olive industry members – producers, growers, advocates – at our own facilities and with our industry collaborators,” he said. “When students leave this program, they will be ready to start a career in the industry.”

Fresh and robust flavor

The olio nuovo is the latest addition to the Olive Center’s product line, which consists of its Wolfskill Reserve and Gunrock extra virgin olive oils and its roasted garlic olive oil. All the olive oils are available to purchase at the UC Davis bookstore downtown and on campus. With its intense freshness, herbaceous flavors and aromas, and smooth finish, olio nuovo goes well with so many foods, including salads, vegetables and pasta.

Lined up bottles of olive oil from UC Davis.

Adele Amico Roxas, associate program director for the Olive Center, said this seasonal delicacy should be consumed right away to enjoy the fresh flavors.

“It’s the very best and freshest of oils,” she said. “In Italy, we love it. For dinner, we have bread with this olive oil, salt, oregano, maybe some tomatoes and pecorino, and this is the best dinner you can have. It’s just amazing.”

Looking at the year ahead, Fernandez-Salvador said the Olive Center has some exciting things on the horizon, including transitioning one of the olive orchards to organic, meaning they will manage the fields without any synthetic pesticides or fertilizers. The Olive Center will also continue to host events and offer several classes throughout the year to educate others about olives and olive oils, including the best ways to consume it.

“Olive oil is the purest, most natural oil that exists,” Fernandez-Salvador said. “You’re basically tasting the fruit juice. That’s what makes it so beautiful.”

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