Olive oil has a longstanding history across the globe. It hails from the lands dotted across the Mediterranean and sub-Saharan Africa. So how did the Lone Star State become a haven for this exotic and fruity oil? We need to look at local producers, such as the Texas Hill Country Olive Co. from Dripping Springs, and how they joined the pioneering movement of locally produced extra-virgin Texas olive oil.
The Humble Beginnings of This Mediterannean Classic
Before taking a look at the grassroots of Texas olive oil, and to fully appreciate this golden liquid fat, you will need to consider the actual roots; olive trees have a very long and colorful history in many cultures. It features notably in three of the most influential world religions - Christianity, Judaism, and Islam - with mentions in the earliest holy books. The ancient civilizations considered it to be a gift from the gods.
This is a testament to its power and ability to bring communities together like virtually no other tree on earth. The physical branches of an olive tree have become a timeless epithet. These branches connected civilizations and unified them with the language of food, the power to provide bountiful fruit-bearing trees, and the range of products from a humble tree.
The Real Golden Child
While many might assume that the fruit is one of the olive trees' most attractive features, its most sought-after product is its oil. It has been produced for a little over 8,000 years, outdating some of the oldest books and texts.
This longstanding and vibrant history only adds to the mystery of this fruit as it is intricately woven into the fabric of many cultures and civilizations that have dotted the countries that surround the Mediterranean region.
From The Mediterranean to the Rolling Hills of Longhorn State
So how did this revered Mediterranean fruit tree find itself at home on the gently rolling hills in the Southern States of America? It boils down to two things. It is often a labor of love and passion where many producers continue or revitalize a family legacy as the children of immigrants and farmers.
The second aspect that makes Texas the perfect starting ground for olive farmers is that it has many acres of arable and fertile soil that are ideal for orchards. The climate and altitude help create the perfect environment for olive tree growing.
The US has a relatively young foot in the door of olive oil farming. Producers span across the country, and overall national production accounts for 5% of the country's consumption - the remaining 95% is imported, testifying to the national need for more production on a local scale.
Cultivating Texas Passion in Olive Oil
The olive oil community in the Lone Star State began roughly in the early 2000s. Many local producers took the risk and became pioneers in their field and haven't looked back since. The perfect climate and soil quality and a healthy glug of Texan pride have ensured its booming and ever-growing success.
Many producers have a deep connection with the farmlands they have utilized for their crops or with familial roots from the Mediterranean. Texas has always been a point of interest for many immigrants for its vibrant culture and climate that is easy to adapt to for many.
Proudly, Locally Produced - Texas Olive Oil
Over the last ten years, there has been a significant shift towards locally sourced, grown, and manufactured products. With many people preferring to support local companies over mass-produced items, locally produced olive oil was naturally next on the long list of impressive crops that Texas has become known for.
Local movements such as the farm-to-table movement have perpetuated the idea that your grass will be as green as you allow it to be through careful cultivation and care. International produce, well known for its quality, also began strictly local. This concept has allowed farmers to question the status quo and submit that sometimes an import label has minimal bearing on the quality of the product. Local is as good as imported if not better.
Another aspect of the boom in locally produced EVOO is the growing interest in supporting thy neighbor. Coupled with the increasing sense of pride in having been a part of the development and evolution of local produce, it drives its popularity forward.
It has broken ground not only to produce some of the nation's finest EVOOs that are comparable to the most refined imports, but this cultural and agricultural movement also promises to be a historic moment for the state of Texas.
Taking a Look at Texas Olive Oil Producers; The Gambini's
Starting as a labor of love and revitalizing their roots as 3rd and 4th generation Italian immigrants - the Gambini family broke ground on 17 acres of land in 2008 and began their pursuit of merging their heritage with their home in the state of Texas. Their goal was simple: to revitalize their history while preserving the authentic beauty of the Texan landscape.
The Gambini farm has come a long way since its inception in 2008. Their choice to join the pioneering movement of olive oil farmers has been fruitful, and their brand, The Texas Hill Country Olive Co. farm, has firmly planted its roots in the limestone slopes of Dripping Springs. The landscape mimics the rolling Italian hills that their ancestors hailed from.
With a range of high-end and quality EVOO products and an onsite bistro that offers tasting tours and a tour of the authentic press that produces the delicious golden liquid, the Texas Hill Country Olive Co. is fast becoming a landmark that promises to propel itself forward and inspire other locals to get involved and plant their roots.