Here is what Gian Luca Grandis told Olissea about his experience as a olive oil presser aboard the oil-press truck for the Olive Truck project. Many difficulties but also many satisfactions! PHOTO GALLERY
Tell us how these days went on board of the olive crusher truck. Which feelings did you have?
A feeling of excellent potential of this project. The companies that gave us the olives to be pressed were completely different productives realities, maybe even equipped with cutting-edge solutions, not free from trivial errors. If many producers have super-intensive olive grove plants with everything mechanized, many others, however, do the harvesting by hand, but really handmade! Without any comb or other, still with scales etc … Irrigation is practically everywhere but also there in a somewhat indiscriminate way, without “respecting” the right time to “prepare” the olives to be brought to the mill. They brought me irrigated olives until harvest day!
Obviously at the mill these fruits create many technical difficulties during the separation with the centrifuge, because the water / oil ratio in the olive is absolutely unbalanced. To give an example: it would be as if we collected olives from us after a week of intense rain … Therefore much more attention was needed to the various adjustments of the machines, also taking into account that the varieties are very different from one another and require different processes, as it also happens to us with our varieties.
They range from mature Leccino, Frantoio and Pendolino to Arbequina, Coratina still green, passing through table varieties that are just beginning veraison. All rigorously full of water … a lot to do!
Fortunately, we liked the oils we made very much, the customers were enthusiastic. They saw that our attentions to their olives were very scrupulous and professional and the crushing operations, however uncomfortable they may have been, were carried out with the utmost care for every detail.
Upon receipt of the olives we have always “interviewed” and consulted the customer to understand what kind of product he wanted, obviously in relation to the variety. Then the product was rapidly washed and defoliated, crushed, extracted and filtered.
The customers were so satisfied that they never stopped saying they had never made such a good oil! From the beginning we had long waiting lists. Samir Bayaktar, father of this Olive Truck project, has always been by our side. He knew his business and made himself rightly paid, given that for putting on the whole bandwagon had to invest a lot.
Above all he had an excellent intuition with this project and Darrell Corti – the organizer of the Los Angeles Olive Oil Award Competition – who greatly appreciated our freshly made oils, commented: Top olive oil they said! But he also noted that it is very strange that no one has ever thought of it before.
What did Samir ask for the processing?
Samir has charged € 55 per quintal for processing … if I think that if I raise my prices by € 1 there is a parliamentary question! I saw Samir reject customers who wanted to book 100 quintals to work …
You were therefore happy to have accepted Samir’s invitation to participate in this project …
Yes a lot. although it is very demanding. Sometimes I told myself if it was not better to accept less tiring situations … not to mention that I set up with my partner Giudyta a beautiful oil mill of which this time I could not occupy myself …
Giudyta has become a very good miller and you can also allow yourself to leave it alone in the hardest moment of the year! Not to mention that you also produce wine … and that this year’s processing has overlapped more than ever. Yes and taht will end like the student overtaking the teacher, like Giotto with Ciambue!
Despite the charm of California before leaving there were so many unknowns. Beginning with the fact that I did not know Samir in person but was proposed to me by Giorgio Mori, of whom he was a customer. Then, considering the expectations towards me, I was curious to see the layout of the container. From a point of
technical view nothing was really missing [SEE PHOTOGALLERY]: from the inverters (which regulate the decanter / breaker rpm) to the motors for more careful adjustments, to the mullers that make the vacuum passing through air conditioning and aspirators where there is the Decanter. A technological jewel on wheels! Clearly, coordination was needed in the crushing operations with the team, especially when, after work, they were washed at all perfection, but all machines.
And what about the expectations of your customers?
Without too much presumption: we are used to oils of superior quality and above all different from each other, so I was really curious to see the reaction to the “Italian style”. They were absolutely enthusiastic and many of them were even, pass me the term, stunned! To my mind the proverb “the farmer didn’t let people know how good the cheese with pears …” came to me. It is clear that, at any latitude, the quality of a product understands it and immediately recognizes everyone!
These injections of trust and appreciation have loaded the whole team helping us to face the multiple challenges that have occurred throughout our stay …
Watch this client’s instagram post. He took a night shot of our illuminated container in the middle of a field and commented: Is that a moonbase? A secret lab […]?
BASE ON THE MOON OR SECRET LABORATORY?
Was it usefull to have Olissea as a correspondent and witness of this project?
Of course, very much, Samir asks you to translate them also in English … he wants to put the articles in the project dossier. After all this rightly aims at the green card, never color was more appropriate!
During the trip to Turkey, the University of Ankara was a partner, and this time Samir involved the University of Davis (CA).
Yes, we moved and we had a demonstration day at Davis University. At the Olive Center which is partner of the project and where we moved the whole circus for a single day to show the use of these machines “Italian style …”.
What were the biggest difficulties?
Especially the different sizes of olives because they require different processes, the machines must be calibrated and adapted each time to the type of olive that arrives.
Here in the picture: 30qli of “hunting shot”
I don’t know what cultivars were and they don’t even know it, but they were 110% hydrated.
And then some trivial mistakes: Taaaac! the crap lurking, I thought after the watertight used for gasoline “but washed well ..” to have touched the bottom .. are more creative on this side of the sea … with plastic bins.
Is Samir’s project alone or are you in partnership with him? No, the project is entirely his.
But is Samir also a miller? Did he help you with the processing?
No, let’s say I’m Boncompagni and he’s Amber … I’m still the general manager … the puppet master behind the scenes … 😃
Have you had any requests for the future?
Yes. Even an agronomist of Mexican descent: he had taken us to break up with trucks from various large Napa Valley wine companies and asked me if we could even move to northern Mexico next year. He was immensely happy when I told him that I would stay for another 10 days.
Even the famous company “Pestoni” could not believe their oil, the quality that came out of it …
After Windmill and Davis University, where have you been?
We made a base from Pestoni for a whole week and the neighbors Mondavi, Kenzo and many others brought us their olives. In the end we stayed there because we had some problems with the olives even though there was a nice oil and everyone was happy. The return was scheduled for November 6 instead I stayed until 15, so much in Italy it was raining and in California there was a wonderful sun … I told myself I’m going back to doing! I would have returned first just for them … In photo Videocall with his dog Geck.
However, they treated me like a king … they gave us all the attention
We also had technical problems, but it is normal, in pressing. Olives to be thrown have blocked the plant .. lost 3 hours … but they were landlords … and I could not not try.
But really also great satisfactions, we did magic piper effect, there were customers coming from outside, over 150 km away. They booked to break up with us in the truck. Enthusiasm has overcome tiredness. They didn’t want me to go away anymore .. The beauty is that as soon as I returned I must go to Puglia! The goal is still far away …
At your mill and at your partner Giudyta these days while you were in California they believed you were in the comanadi …
Yes is true in fact she sent me this photo of her commenting: Gian Luca who?
And how does he do without you?
She is tired but the customers are filled with compliments .. after the first disorientation … now everything is ok .. I know she makes great oils!
Do you think Samir is able to carry out this project without you?
Part of Samir’s project was to produce oil with its OLIVE truck brand by buying lots of olives. I don’t know if he’s ready to work alone. In fact, there have been many difficulties that have arisen, with the many different cultivars that we see they carry capacities, all with completely different characteristics. Then the attitudes as well as the somewhat amateurish irrigation programs, as I said.
I can say that it was a good test for me too. And I admit that I had never had a season of such complex decanter management, with all the adjustments I had to make, in 15 years! Really many, too many differences and variables in the same working day … I seemed to hear Forrest Gump with chocolates “.. you never know which one touches you ..” I with olives, how will they arrive? Small, dehydrated or full of water .. ??
Believe me it was a problem with water, with all those I came into contact with: producers and private individuals who really have confused ideas about irrigation, believe they must drown the plants and when I said that the more the olive suffers from thirst the more the oil is good they looked at me as if I were teasing them. However, the improvements that we can apply to make our service more efficient have also emerged, for example with better defoliation or other operations concerning the management of olives in the field and all the operations to be performed before they are conferred. All things easily achievable, which will allow better customer service. I discovered everything in place.
I think a new era has begun with this project. Now it would be necessary to form highly specialized and competent teams that are able to raise other millers. A project of this kind is based only if you have very high level operators on board. Without technical training it is useless to have the most advanced mill and machinery at home.
It’s true. In fact, here in America something similar to the itinerant oil mill had already been done but had failed because the oils produced had not proved to be up to expectations. They had little success because they did not guarantee this level of professionalism and technology even if the container looked like a laboratory where to do the CT scan!
What do you mean?
It was finished and looked after very well, but specialists were needed. A beginner risked burning. Operational frameworks must be highly trained otherwise nothing can be done.
We could do a sit comedy … Sam & Gian.
Let’s work, it really should be done! It would have a guaranteed success!
Mondavi and the other known customers we have had (screaming doctors and architects) are a sign of curiosity and confidence given to a mobile structure that fascinates with the technology and professionalism of the project.
Did you move to go to Mondavi too?
No, he also came to us. We were parked by the Pestoni family, in Saint Helena in Napa Valley. In fact, there were only three trips.
But in terms of various permits and regulations, in Italy would it be possible to create such a service?
I think not, given all the rules and certainly then the mills would arise. Not to mention that we have so many and the distances are minimal.
Clear that even in America such a project in the long run would end up breaking someone’s box, as Darrell Corti also told me.
However, apart from the very last day that fortunately ended with beautiful olives and consequently good oils, the last 2 days were truly delirious. Drawbacks and adversities of all kinds … I swear that I wanted to put a wrench in the crusher and break everything …
But couldn’t you send the ugly olives back?
We did it, but those who travel 150 km taking a rental truck to follow you also tend to tenderness. From then on, however, it was a massacre to work a few games.
Anyway, to go back to Samir’s project, he had all the permits for the activity of course and in my opinion he really caught the right moment with this project straddling duties, the latest news from Trump. And the investments planned by the California Council to develop the olive oil sector, just approved last week. It seems to be done on purpose, even if to use them we should have started since last year.