How to Make Award-Winning Olive Oil in a Tractor-Trailer

For nearly a decade, Samir Bayraktar has made extra virgin olive oil on a tractor-trailer. The mechanical engineer came up with the idea while managing Turkish olive oil manufacturer Nar Gourmet.

"We had a project to research and find minor local cultivars around Anatolia," Bayraktar told Olive Oil Times."In the first year, we started making olive oil from these cultivars, but not all were as good as we wanted."

By the beginning of 2018, Bayraktar moved back to the United States, where he had received his Master’s degree more than a decade before. “2019 was my first production year in California,” he said.

Appropriately dubbed the Olive Truck, Bayraktar immediately returned to winning ways at the world’s largest olive oil quality contest. Since 2020, he has won 10 NYIOOC awards, including one gold and two silver this year.

Bayraktar transforms olives from two contracted farms in Fairfield and Lower Lake, California, west of Sacramento. He also advises neighboring olive farmers and mills some of their olives with the mobile mill.

Working with his neighbors allows him to experiment. Bayraktar's hired farmers harvest Coratina, Leccino, and Frantoio olives, but he also plants Favalosa and Itrana. He said, "In five years, these new plantations will produce good olive oil."

Bayraktar credited his NYIOOC success to his emphasis on quality over quantity and the mobile mill's adaptability. "The busiest period for me is probably the three weeks to one month before the season because it’s scheduling time," he said.

Bayraktar analyzes the present olive crop and prior harvests to determine when to harvest and mill each grove. "I collect samples two or three weeks before what I estimate to be the best harvest window," he stated."