The premiere olive oil milling course in the U.S. is set for October 1 – 4 at the Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science’s U.C. Davis Center. Under the direction of the Center’s executive director, Dan Flynn, the UC Master Milling Certificate Course, now in its seventh year, continues to elevate its world-class curriculum. “The course provides a detailed guide to current or future olive oil processors on how to maximize quality and profitability,” Flynn Said. “It’s the only course of its kind in North America.”
This year’s program, with its home base set at the Silverado Vineyard Sensory Theater, will be led by Leandro Ravetti, one of the world’s leading experts in olive oil from harvest to processing.
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An agricultural engineer hailing from Argentina, Ravetti worked for many years with the National Institute of Agricultural Technology in olive production research, serving as advisor to several of the country’s largest olive growers and olive oil producers. In 2001, he made the cross-continental leap to Australia where he currently leads a “Modern Olives” technical team, consulting and providing guidance to that country’s major growers and processors, and helping to facilitate the planting of 3.5 million trees.
Since 2005, Ravetti has served as executive director of Boundary Bend Ltd., Australia’s leading, fully integrated olive company, helping to spearhead the company’s rapid growth, high efficiency, and a collection of oils that continue to garner top awards at international competitions and tastings. Under Ravetti’s leadership, through his focus on innovation, data, and analysis, the company continues to maximize production efficiency without sacrificing quality.
“Leandro is a rock star in the field,” said an enthusiastic Flynn. “He is simply one of the world’s best teachers about olive oil.”
Flynn said the 2015 course format will remain similar to its established standard. Olive2Bottle, a mobile milling service, will be on hand to process olive oil directly on site. An off-site component will include visits (including one to the new California-based operation of Boundary Bend), to five local olive oil processing facilities — two more than the previous year — giving the approximately 50 participants a chance to see best practices first-hand.
The field trip has become a valuable component of the course, Flynn noted, with the class getting quizzed about what they have learned in the presentations. Being able to visit the processing plants, from the very smallest millers to much larger facilities, is integral to the program’s mission.
At Yolo Press, a certified organic operation that produces single cultivar oils, miller Mike Madison uses a low-speed roller mill to gently crush the olives and pits, minimizing heat and emulsification. And at Olica, founded by Russian native Olga Orlova, the system is designed to allow for custom-milled batches as small as 200 lbs.
The world’s only Native-American producer of olive oil is Seka Hills, whose award-winning extra virgin Arbequina is processed using Alfa Laval equipment. The cylindrical tanks provide an oxygen-free environment for the malaxation of the olives. By contrast, Bondolio’s Pieralisi mill includes the only multi-phase decanter in the U.S., resulting in a zero-waste processing system and a by-product known as “paté,” thought to have the potential to add some of the healthful antioxidants found in fine quality olive oil to foods like bread and pasta.
The fresh and seasonal New American cuisine of local Magpie Caterers will be on the menu for students at the Master Millers class, bringing a bounty of Northern California-grown-and-raised ingredients to the experience. Participants who sign up prior to August 1 will enjoy an early enrollment discount of 20 percent, a substantive bonus for the wealth of knowledge experienced and would-be millers will take home.
“Past attendees have made immediate improvements in the quality and profitability of their oil processing operation,” noted Flynn. “This course is a small investment that will pay off in more efficiency, better quality, and higher profits.”
Learn more about the program and register for the UC Master Milling Certificate Course at the UC Davis Olive Center website.