At the end of the great frost in 1985, only 79 of our 2.782 olive trees were still alive. Strangely enough, this natural disaster made us even more determined to relaunch the cultivation of olives in an area where the land is renowned for producing the finest olive oil. Twenty-seven acres were immediately prepared for the intensive cultivation of olives. Great care went into choosing varieties and clones which could be cultivated with up-to-date methods while still respecting tradition. At the same time, plans were made to build a new cold olive-press with traditional millstones and extraction by pressure less dripping. This system is called “Sinolea”. Everything that the Eighties had to offer in new technology and hygienic standards was also introduced.
THE OLIVE PRESS IN VOLPAIA
The process of extracting oil from olives is generally divided into three distinct operations: crushing, extracting and separating. It is the method used for extracting the oil which defines the various system..
In order to achieve the best possible results, we installed a traditional olive crusher with three granite mullers. Although this method takes much longer than more modern systems, it is the only way to produce premium quality pulp.
The liquids (oil and natural water) can be separated from the pulp by using pressure, centrifuges or the Sinolea system, the one we use.
This method is based on a very simple law of physics: liquids with different molecular cohesion have different surface tensions. Therefore, when a blade is plunged into a mixture of oil and water, only the oil sticks to the blade, thus separating the oil from the pulp without using pressure. The machine which does this is called a Sinolea. It has 7000 stainless steel blades which penetrate the mashed olives slowly and continuously. Every time the blades emerge they bring with them a small quantity of very pure oil containing practically no water. It is easily understandable that by not applying any pressure, the best results are achieved and the oil flows fresh and fragrant. Under normal conditions the Sinolea extracts between 60 and 80% of the oil. The method used by other mills is employed by us only to extract the last 20 to 40%. So our second grade oil is of the same standard as the first grade oil from other mills. Obviously this process takes at least three times longer than the others and is consequently more costly, but we feel that it is time and money well spent.