The Story Behind Our Olive Oil Farm & Vineyard

My husband and I schedule our own “marriage retreats” every 2-3 years. During one of these events, which took place in a rented apartment in Buenos Aires, we recognized our mutual love of nature and our desire to become farmers. We even composed vision boards containing tempranillo grapes, heritage varietals of beans and rare hot peppers.

We found the ideal place to develop our vineyard. We named our farm "Al Pie del Cielo" or "At the foot of the Heavens," as it sits perched on a vast hilltop and is enveloped by the sky. Our attention was drawn toward preparation of the higher slopes of the property and the selection of appropriate root stock. Meanwhile, we allowed a successful olive oil producer to continue harvesting the small olive orchard as he had done with the prior owners.

After harvests, we would receive compensation by way of a few gallons of extra virgin olive oil. It was delicious. We learned that the property had been planted with 50 acres of these less common Tuscan olive varietals: Frantoio, Coratina and Pendolino. Unfortunately, most of the olive trees were destroyed by frost several years ago, and we were left with 350 trees or three acres. Our affection for these survivors grew, as did our care: we began gentle organic fertilizing, thoughtful and strategic pruning, Key line plowing between the rows and improved the deficit irrigation system. 

As stewards of this land, we realized and appreciated the unexpected gift of our olive orchard, and since 2016, I stand beside our workers during harvest, from dawn until sunset, hand stripping the olives from its branches. 

A field of olive trees at Al Pie Del Cielo Olive Farm and Vineyard in San Luis Obispo, California

As we explored our new world of extra virgin olive oil, we decided to press a small batch of the Pendolino, a rather low yield olive used primarily for pollination, separately from the blend to see if it had any unusual taste characteristics. When we noticed the more pronounced green and peppery essence, we chose to bottle these separately; this is an excellent finishing olive oil.

As our farm's environment has improved, so too has our population of quail, which congregate whimsically on the orchard floor. Hence the label for our extra virgin olive oil bears the image and the name, Codorniz (Spanish for quail).