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Back to our roots with Estate olive oil

4.19.2013

By Dateline staff

Photo: Three bottles of 2013 UC Davis olive oil (Silo, Gunrock and Estate)

2013 release: Silo, Gunrock and Estate blends

While Picnic Day takes us back to our University Farm days, a new release of UC Davis olive oil takes us right down to our roots.

It’s the Estate blend — made primarily from campus olives, including those harvested from two acres of trees planted throughout the last five years on university land west of Highway 113.

The new blend and other 2013 UC Davis olive oils will be available for tasting at two Picnic Day booths, each open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.: one on the Memorial Union’s north patio, outside the bookstore, and the other outside the UC Davis Store Downtown, 630 Second St., at F Street, next to the Varsity Theatre. If you’re interested in making a purchase, all you need to do is step inside the bookstore or the downtown store.

The other blends are Gunrock, Silo and Roasted Garlic.

UC Davis olive oils date to 2005, when the grounds division saw an opportunity to rid campus bikeways and walkways of a slippery, dangerous mess — the result of olives falling from trees — by harvesting the olives, pressing them into oil, and putting the profits into olive and olive oil research. All this effort eventually morphed into the Olive Center, based at the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science.

Over the years, the traditional Gunrock and Silo blends and, later, the Roasted Garlic blend, have not always been made with campus olives — owing to small harvests or less-than-optimal quality. Other growers have come to the rescue, donating olives to make oil for the UC Davis label.

Dan Flynn, executive director of the Olive Center, said the Estate blend is about 75 percent campus-grown; donated oil makes up the rest, added to achieve a better balance.

The campus harvest totaled about 4 tons — half from the new orchard and half from some older trees. Flynn said the new orchard features 20 varieties of olives, and is being farmed in an organic manner, though not yet certified.

“Eventually, we hope to have 100 percent campus olives in the Estate blend,” he said.

The Estate supply is limited: 315 cases. The 250-milliliter bottles are priced at $15. The other blends — Gunrock, Silo and Roasted Garlic — sell for $12 a bottle.

Also available for tasting and buying: UC Davis California Sicilian-style table olives, $7 per jar.

And don’t forget the UC Davis olive oil personal products: Sweet Olive Body Butter ($12.95) and Sweet Orange Body Lotion ($10.95), and bar soap ($7) and lip balm ($4).

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