Oct 312014

Turkey in TexasThe Spanish invested in the California Olive Ranch now it looks like the Turkish invested in the Texas Olive Ranch.

Two years ago in 2012, Texas business man, Jim Henry, told the world he planned to plant 300,000 olive trees in Carrizo Springs, Victoria, Texas (the article above says 30,000, so who knows). At that time Jim stated he’d produced extra virgin olive oil from 40,000 trees already in production and wanted to grow the olive industry in Texas.

Today Jim announced that he had transferred ownership of his Texas Olive Ranch to a group of Turkish investors. His announcement accompanied this statement, “I’m not a farmer. I’m not sure what I am.” I’m not sure what that means but Olive Crazy is guessing that even though Jim’s Texas table olive and olive oil vision was real, it was probably more expensive than he wanted to handle.

Regardless of how all this turns out in the end, the most lucrative potential market for extra virgin olive oil is in the United States and the supply of US evoo doesn’t come close to meeting the demand. Currently US olive oil and table olive production is in California. Unfortunately for US consumers California has never produced enough to meet demand. Even worse, the drought conditions in California and persistent olive fly problems have caused a number of California growers to pull out their trees in hopes of growing more profitable crops.

Make no mistake, farming is hard work and the unpredictability is tough for many folks to handle. I certainly don’t blame Jim or any of the California olive growers for their business decisions. I wish them and the US olive industry well.

May the sun shine through your branches.


Mar 282011

The 1st Annual Texas Olive Oil Tasting and Contest is over and the results are in.

South-Central Texas’ booming olive oil industry was on display on Saturday, March 26th at Threadgill’s in Austin before a large, enthusiastic audience. Olive growers from all over Texas were on hand to find out how Texas olive oils compared to those from Italy, Spain, and Argentina, countries recognized as the top producers in the world.

Jim Henry, Texas olive pioneer, owner of the Texas Olive Ranch, and one of the founding members of the Texas Olive Oil Council celebrated a banner Texas 2010 olive harvest, “I’m delighted to see so much interest in Texas olive oil and such a large crowd at this event” said Henry, “and it’s great to see that what we’ve been doing is now supporting efforts in Northern Mexico to plant olive orchards.”

It looks like Jim is taking his pioneering spirit to Mexico as well. And now for the results of the contest.

The Texas Olive Ranch took second and third place in the large producer category with their Arbosana varietal olive oil and their Grove Master’s Blend. Azienda Guarino, an estate olive oil from Sicily, Italy, took first place in the competition overall. “This is still a great day for Texas”, insisted Antonio Guarino, representing Azienda Guarino. “Texas is definitely going to be a world class contender in the years to come.”

Jeff Conarko, owner of Con’ Olio Oils and Vinegars in Austin, coordinated the Showcase. In the Artisan Grower Category, Jewett Farms from Moulton, Texas was awarded first place with their oil milled from a mix of Frantoio, Arbequina, Leccino, Picual, and Mission olives. “This was unexpected”, said a surprised Dunham Jewett from Houston, Texas. “2010 was the first harvest from our trees that we were able to press into olive oil”.

Second place was awarded to Bel-Asher Olive Oil from Asherton, Texas, from 100 year old trees of unknown variety that inspired olive growers to plant again in the Carrizo Springs area. Third place honors were awarded to Qualia Orchard Olive Oil in Del Rio, Texas, part of the Val Verde Winery estate, the oldest winery in Texas.

“All of the olive oils represented in the showcase are winners, because for the last 50 years anyone who wanted to grow olives in Texas has been told it wasn’t possible,” said Henry. “Now we know it is not only possible to grow olives, it is possible to make a world class olive oil with a Texas crop of olives.”

The crowd at Threadgill’s also previewed a rough cut of “El Camino, the Texas/Mexico Olive Trail,” a documentary film produced and directed by Bill Millet, coming to PBS stations June 2011. Segments of the Judging and Showcase were shot for inclusion in the documentary.

The Judges of the 1st Annual Texas Olive Oil Tasting and Contest were:

  • Jeff Conarko (owner, Con’ Olio Oils & Vinegars)
  • Virginia Wood (Food Editor, Austin Chronicle)
  • Kathleen Scott (Writer, San Antonio Express News)
  • Scott Boruff (Executive Director, Texas Parks & Wildlife Department)
  • Tracy Dufault (HEB Stores, Carbs & Oils BDM)
  • Elsa Gramola (Celebrity Chef, Central Market, Sicily, Italy)
  • Don Jesus Ramon (Ciudad Acuña, Mexico)
  • Don Maurovio Cordoneda (Resistencia, Argentina)
  • Don Ricardo Reguera Blanco (León, Spain)

The olive producers who participated:

  • Texas Olive Ranch (Carrizo Springs, Texas)
  • Anderson’s Olive Farm (Dilley, Texas)
  • Sandy Oaks (Elmendorf, Texas)
  • Farrell’s Olive Orchard (Artesia Wells, Texas)
  • Azienda Guarino (Partanna, Sicily, Italy)
  • Indalo Extra Virgin Olive Oil (Catamarca, Argentina)
  • Villa Blanca Extra Virgin Olive Oil (Seville, Spain) certified organic
  • Rancho La Espiga (Ciudad Acuna, Mexico)
  • Jewett Farms (Moulton, Texas)
  • Corpus Christi Olive Oil (from cir. 1942 olive trees)
  • Bel-Asher Olive Oil (Asherton, Texas from cir. 1914 olive trees)
  • Qualia Orchard (Del Rio, Texas)
  • Tejeda Middle School Olive Oil (San Antonio, Texas)

May the sun shine through your branches.


Mar 202011

Texas is celebrating. Texas growers recently harvested a bumper crop of  extra virgin olive oil, and the Texas Olive Oil Council and Threadgill’s North restaurant in Austin, Texas are hosting the celebration.

They would love for all you olive and olive oil lovers to join them on Saturday, March 26th, 2011 from 6:00 pm to 11:00 pm at Threadgill’s North for the 1st Annual Texas Olive Oil Tasting and Contest. Details about all the fun can be found at the TOOC link above.

The 2010 crop of Texas olive oil will be judged in a blind taste test against the best olive oils from Argentina, Italy and Spain, with an additional estate olive oil competitor from Ciudad Acuña, Mexico. There will also be an exclusive screening of “Texas Olive Trails” before it shows on PBS in June 2011. For more about “Texas Olive Trails” see my article about the film from yesterday.

I wish I could attend. If you are attending, tell me all about it.

May the sun shine through your branches.


Mar 192011

Wait a minute, we’re talking about Texas and an olive industry. Yes indeed thar’s gold growing on them thar hills. Watch out California Texas is after a share of the U.S. olive oil market. The U.S. market is relatively small in relation to the rest of the world (1% I believe), but I prefer to see the positive side and that means there’s room to grow – no market saturation yet.

Soon PBS will be airing the new film, Texas Olive Trails, it is a testament to the folks of that state. I enjoyed watching the film preview very much. I hope you do too.

May the sun shine through your branches.