Artisan Spotlight: Texas Olive Ranch

The Grand Tasting will boast an array of delicious sips and samples from an impressive number of the country’s top wine, spirits and culinary exhibitors, not to mention the local and regional chefs who will be on hand sharing their creations as well.

One of the best – and most rewarding – parts of the Grand Tasting experience is the chance to talk with the makers, and our Artisan Spotlight series introduces you to a few of these creative entrepreneurs in advance of the fest. You’ve already gone behind the scenes with Tiny Pies and Lick Honest Ice Creams, now get to know the magic behind Texas Olive Ranch!

Texas Olive Ranch
Courtesy MySanAntonio

AFWF: When did you launch Texas Olive Ranch, and how did you start making olive oils?

Texas Olive ranch started in 2005 when we planted 40,000 olive trees in Carrizo Springs, Texas. We planted there due to the dry and warm climate as well the sandy loam-type soil that’s best for our variety of olive trees. In 2009 we had our first harvest and began producing and bottling authentic Texas olive oil.

Courtesy NPR | Karen Lee Henry

Can you tell us a little about the process of producing your own olive oil? Your favorite part?

Producing olive oil is hard work and we need a collective effort to take proper care of the olive trees and have a great harvelst every year. The year-round process involves proper pruning and shaping of the trees, a water schedule that maximizes olive production and a properly timed harvest and production of the olive oil using our state of the art olive press.

I personally run the olive press every year and my favorite part is when the first drop of Texas olive oil is tasted. Like my father always said (the pioneer of the Texas olive industry)… It’s a magical thing!

Which variety/product is the most popular?

The most popular product is the EVOO of Texas. It’s called Arbequina Extra Virgin Olive Oil. It’s a variety of tree that originated in the southern part of Spain. The flavor is a wonderful – earthy and grassy.

Favorite little-known usage – or recipe! – you can share?

Our entire family uses it on their skin. There’s also a company that is going to source our Texas olive oil in their skin care line. It’s called Olive and M.

My favorite recipe is a simple vinaigrette with EVOO, balsamic vinegar, local honey, and salt and pepper. Fantastic!

Which chef are you most excited to see at AFWF and what can festival-goers expect to sample at your station?

At our station everyone can sample EVOO with some local artisan bread. I’m looking forward to seeing all the talented chefs, getting to know them a little better and showing them true olive oil made in Texas.