Jack Dougherty of Bella Vista Ranch knows olives.
It had been olives that bridged the gap between your high tech haven of Palo Alto and the Texas Hill Country heaven of Wimberley for Jack Dougherty. Mr. Dougherty had a distinguished career in the high tech industry and at one point supervised more than 1,000 employees. But his heart was always in the fruit groves and nut bearing groves near his boyhood Palo Alto home.
In Jack’s case, it seems you just can’t take the united states out of your boy and he made his solution to Texas and Wimberley the moment he could. EB1 extraordinary ability He still travels the planet in search of information and technology, and techniques on olives, but his home and his heart are now at Bella Vista Ranch near Wimberley, Texas.
We took a tour of Bella Vista Ranch a few weeks ago and sat in amazement as he explained the story of olives to us and a few others gathered under some live oak trees sitting on picnic tables right smack in the middle of among the premier olive groves in Texas and the USA. We had no idea we had stumbled upon among the premier experts of the olive world right there in Wimberley.
As he told the history of olives, he related that the first one who ever tasted an olive was most likely not impressed. Raw olives contain an alkaloid that makes them very bitter and unedible. Some ancient civilization found that soaking them in brine removes the bad taste.
Olives have been around for centuries, but until recently they were only a condiment you served together with your meals or at a party as an appetizer. It had been in the 19902s that health organizations took notice of the health benefits, specifically our heart health. With this particular discovery, new diets emerged using ESSENTIAL OLIVE OIL in their recipes.
Olive farming started in the Mediterranean, but because the economy changed so did the usage of the land that olives were grown. In the usa, California is our major grower of both green and black olives, but because of the high prices of land, the olive growing can be shrinking. So now Olive farmers are searching for less expensive land to grow olives to produce the essential olive oil to meet the increasing demand.
It is apparent that Mr. Dougherty has spent lots of time researching olives. You will find a report compiled by George Ray McEachern and Larry A. Stein, Extension Horticulturists from Texas A & M University titled ‘Growing Olives in Texas Gardens’, where they discuss growing Olives in Texas. They discuss where in fact the climate is good in Texas, and about what olive trees need to survive. They limited the areas to East, Central, and South Texas. But that has been about it. Mr. Dougherty kept on along with his research and settled in on the Wimberley area to be ideal. He did involve some concerns about the weather, but the soil conditions seemed to be much like ideal olive growing locations in other areas of the world. Not too many olives are grown in Texas north of San Antonio.
The Bella Vista Ranch fits all of the criteria for being able to grow olives. The soil has a lot of caliche which makes for great drainage and the temperature doesn’t dip to freezing very often or for long periods of time. There are over 1,000 Olive trees on the ranch today.
There are 16 different varieties of olive trees grown at the grove, with the California Mission Olive because the tree of choice that is primarily grown at the Bella Vista Ranch.
Below are a few things we learned all about olives and olive production in Texas. Olive trees were taken to the brand new World by the Spanish. They first found its way to Mexico and then made their way from there to California with missionaries where in fact the trees were first planted in 1769. The olive trees were known as Mission olives since they were grown in olive groves near the missions. This variety no more exists in Spain, but is popular in California and Texas. Using Mission Olives gives ESSENTIAL OLIVE OIL an extremely long shelf life.
The weather has not always cooperated with the Bella Vista Ranch olive trees. Actually a late freeze almost put the Olive ranch out of business. That they had to cut back and replace almost all their olive trees. Other concerns were that Olives are an alternating fruit producer, and therefore some years there are more olives produced than others, and you also have to hand select the olives and pruning is essential. Olive trees grow very rapidly and when the tree grows uncontrollable, the nutrients are employed by the tree for the growth rather than the fruit. The Olive trees must be kept pruned.
The Olive tree produces fruit in a fascinating way, the blooms create the olive cluster, then only one 1 or 2 2 olives which are the strongest continue steadily to grow and hang from the tree. They go through a color differ from green to red, Jack can go through the tree and decide from the texture of your skin and the color if it is time to select the entire tree. The olives gathered from each tree will be a mix of olives from green to red and also dark red. With all the current different stages of ripened olives, when pressed together should create a very flavorful olive oil.
When harvesting the olives, given that they need to be hand picked, they will start in the bottom of the tree and pick as high as they can reach. Then they use ladders to pick more. The final step they will use would be to lay out tarps or nets in the bottom of the tree and work with a device that looks like a little rake to comb through the tree and when the olives fall to the ground, they are gathered in the tarps.
They will start producing a decent crop once the tree is normally 4 to a decade old, and each tree can produce up to a couple hundred pounds of olives in a good year. Since they are alternate bearing, one year you can find the maximum pounds and then the next get just a couple of pounds. There is no solution to know which year a tree is a good producer. Pruning could be the key to producing more olives.
As was explained to us, the first one who ever tasted an olive was most likely not impressed. Raw olives contain an alkaloid that makes them very bitter and unedible. Some ancient civilization discovered that soaking them in brine removes the bad taste. In the Frantoio room where in fact the olives are pressed into essential olive oil, there exists a centrifuge method called ‘Cold Pressing’ from enough time the olives are harvested to the time the olive oil is bottled, the olives won’t go past a particular temperature. Heat and light along with oxygen will cause a chemical change, and will effect the flavor of the essential olive oil.
Olive Oil Is Like an excellent Wine
Jack Dougherty of Bella Vista Ranch knows olives.