Harvesting and pressing the olives for extra-virgin olive oil at Il Poggione

Harvesting and pressing the olives for extra-virgin olive oil at Il Poggione

The cold weather has arrived in Montalcino. For a few days
now, morning temperatures are around 37-38° F. and it never gets warmer than
44-45° during the day.

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We are proceeding with the harvest of olives, even though we
have almost finished. At Il Poggione, we have 12,000 olive trees planted over
80 hectares of land. The olives are picked by hand and taken immediately to our
estate’s press where they are pressed within 6 hours of harvest.

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Once the fruit has arrived, the leaves are removed and the
olives are washed and then very thinly sliced with very sharp blades. The
slices are so thin that they turn into a paste, which is stirred for about 40
minutes in order to extract the oil from the “flesh” of the fruit.
After 40 minutes of stirring, the solids (formed by the skins and the pits)
begin to separate from the liquid (formed by the oil and the water contained in
the fruit).

At this point, the paste is transferred to a machine called
a “decanter”, which is nothing more than a slow centrifuge. The
solids (called the “sansa”) are removed from the outer part of the
centrifuge and then is used to fertilize the olive groves. The liquid (water
and oil) is then transferred to a centrifuge that separates the water from the
extra-virgin olive oil.

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The water is added to the previously removed
“sansa” while the oil is transferred to stainless-steel vats where it
settles for a few days before it is filtered.

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The whole process is carried out using a touch-screen
computer that helps us to identify any problems we might have. In the photo
above, you can see Antonio Vincelli, the son of Elio Vincelli (click here), who also works
for Il Poggione as one of the olive press managers.

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