The Olive Orchards that Supply Lucero
Hall Road Orchard Developed in 2008-09
One of the catalysts for scaling the Lucero Olive Oil business from a cottage industry to a California LLC in January 2009 was the development of the Hall Road orchard by a local family, already in motion in 2008. This land, acquired and redeveloped from rice fields into an expansive olive orchard by the Crane Family, is well integrated into the natural landscape around it.
This feeling of being an extension of the surrounding wild land exists in part because of its adjacency to a creek to the south and proximity to a large grassland ranch to the east. It is also well integrated because the large Valley Oak trees (Quercus lobata) that dotted the parcel were left standing with a generous space allowance beyond their canopies.
Six different sections, or blocks, are farmed around these majestic trees--trees that feed woodpeckers, scrub jays, and squirrels. The California Valley oak can live 600 years or more, and by their size I reckon that some of these trees have been here since the early 20th century, and perhaps even before California was a state.
California lupine and wild hyacinths (Dipterostemon capitatus) bloom among native grasses in the spring attracting black pipeline and western tiger swallowtail butterflies. Many birds and mammals make this orchard home, predators and prey alike.
Thomes Creek to the south is considered a major watercourse, running 62 miles from the Cascade Mountain Range in Mendocino Forest to the Sacramento River. This creek is immediately adjacent to the south block with an elevation change from the orchard roadway down its steep northern bank about 30 feet. Its silty edges ranging bank to bank from 100 to 300 yards across when running fast, but a scant 15 to 25 yards across during these drought years along the southern property line.
The mighty Sacramento River is a mere 1,200 yards to the east, a short distance beyond the trees shown below.
Read more about Hall Road in this article about the Arbequina olives grown there.
Williams 160 Orchard Developed in 2012
Another Crane Family development project appears on the map at the same latitude as Hall Road, just above the 39th parallel, 5.25 miles west measured farm gate to farm gate as the crow flies.
130 acres of the 160 acre parcel was planted with 10 varieties of olives, some of which have thrived in our microclimate, others found ultimately unsuitable. The three consistently best olive varieties from this orchard are Ascolano, Picual, and Coratina, which we continue to support.
The first seven harvests were 100% by hand, however, today the trees are big enough to harvest with a trunk shaker and catch frame set up, significantly speeding up the time from harvest to mill. These images are from one of the last hand harvests performed here.
The parcel to the south is a thriving, well established table olive orchard, our neighbors across the street grow almonds and walnuts and, interestingly, the parcel just beyond the northern fence line is an ecological reserve, land set aside for no development and no grazing.