Our oil is pressed from the fruit of century-old Mission olive groves. The first olive trees in California arrived over 200 years ago, brought from Spain by Franciscan monks who planted them as they journeyed along the coast to establish missions throughout Alta California. From San Diego in the south to the San Francisco Bay Area in the north, groves sprung up in mission gardens and settlements. Olives flourished in the Mediterranean climate of California, and though the lineage of the trees before their arrival in the New World is unclear, the variety imported to the New World by the Franciscans came to be known as the Mission olive.
Early pioneers of agricultural development and diversification in Northern California recognized the value of Mission olives, which could be preserved whole or pressed to produce a buttery, golden oil. Cuttings from the original Mission trees were planted in groves throughout the northern Sacramento Valley and encircling Sierra Nevada foothills in the early 1900's. The lower slopes of Table Mountain— a landmark volcanic formation that draws the adventurous to its spectacular hidden waterfalls and brilliant display of wildflowers each spring— proved to be exceptionally fertile ground for olive production.
Our heritage Mission olive groves are among those original plantings, nestled into the northern and northwestern face of Table Mountain. Even after a century of harvests, these trees are still producing delicious oil that has a fresh and peppery taste during early harvest, mellowing to a remarkably buttery, delicate flavor by the last press of the season. Garnering multiple awards under other labels, our family began bottling the oil under our own name in 2016, and have since taken home a Gold Medal at the 2018 California State Fair, and Silver Medals at the 2018 Los Angeles International Extra Virgin Olive Oil Competition, 2018 Central Coast Olive Oil Competition, 2017 San Joaquin Valley Olive Oil Competition and 2017 California State Fair.
Producing olive oil and humanely-raised, pastured beef is intertwined in our eco-friendly farming philosophy. Our cattle provide weed control and soil enrichment as they graze in the shaded alleys of the olive groves in the heat of the long Northern California summer. Any weeds that the cattle won't eat are removed by hand while the trees are being tended by our olive estate staff, eliminating any need for herbicides. Occasionally, if leaf analysis reveals that the trees have a specific nutrient deficiency, a targeted fertilizer will be applied, and foliar applications of natural clay or copper may be used to protect the leaves and fruit from olive pests and diseases, but no other management interventions are employed. While we are not certified as organic producers, we endeavor to apply the least invasive, most targeted management practices available to us through modern technology, guided by principles of working with our native ecosystem drawn from Old World land management traditions.
A portion of our olive oil is designated to finish our pasture-raised, USDA-inspected Angus beef. The cattle also enjoy grass, corn and barley during the final two to three months before we harvest the meat, collectively resulting in more tender, flavorful cuts delivered to the consumer. Our cattle are never given hormones or soy. Due to our strong belief in the humane treatment of animals, individual calves or cows may be given a short round of antibiotics in the case of otherwise life-threatening illness, just as we would want this intervention to be available to our human companions, but we never administer antibiotics to the entire herd as a protocol. In the winter, our cattle roam freely over the grassy hills that slope away from Coal Canyon, on the northern face of Table Mountain. During the spring, summer, and fall, they can often be seen from the country roads that wind through our orchards, grazing contentedly in the shade of the gnarled olive trees, a symbol to us of nature and agriculture, working in harmony.
TO PURCHASE HUMANELY-RAISED PASTURED BEEF FROM OUR OLIVE GROVES, PLEASE VISIT THE BAMFORD CATTLE COMPANY WEBSITE.
Three generations of the Bamford family can often be found in the orchard on harvest days. Our fresh olives are cold-pressed at a locally owned and operated Butte County mill within 24 hours of picking. We bottle the oil in our on-farm, certified facility, and store it under strict climate controls to ensure that the product you find in our booths at regional festivals and farmer's markets, or purchase through our Tasting Room or Online Store, is the freshest, highest quality artisan olive oil that we can deliver. Rich in disease-fighting polyphenols, and delicious to cook with or eat fresh, we are delighted to share this golden elixir from our heritage Mission olive groves.