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Olive Oil History
This olive oil historical timeline comes from the book The Passionate Olive written by Carole Firenze. I met Carole Firenze as a result of an article that the San Francisco Chronicle wrote about titled, “ Los Gatos couple won’t leave home without their olive oil”. That got her attention because she is also from Los Gatos and also passionate about olive oil. She contacted me and we shared stories about our passion for olive oil. In her book she talks about that same article on the first page of Chapter 10.

6000 BC
Olive cultivation first appears in Syria
3000 BC
Knowledge and cultivation spreads in the Mediterranean area from east to west
2500 BC
Earthenware tablets in Crete reference olive oil and its uses
2000 BC
Ancient Israelites use precious olive oil for anointing priests and kings and to burn temple lamps
1780 BC
The Code of Hammurabi states that, under penalty of death, no one can prune an olive tree more than two feet per year
1500 BC
Olive oil appears as a major commercial product in Crete and is sold in Egypt for use in cosmetics
1000 BC
The exceptional culinary aspects of olive oil are noted in Greece
776 BC
First Olympic Games take place where an olive branch and olive oil are awarded to the winners
620 BC
Solon’s Olive Protection Law declares that anyone found guilty of uprooting or destroying an olive tree would be sentenced to death
100 BC
Romans develop several classifications of olive oil
325 AD
Under the reign of Constantine, 2,300 oil distributors in the capital of the Empire supply citizens with olive oil for cooking, cosmetics, massage, body care, lamps and other uses
1000 AD
Olive Oil becomes rare and is sometimes used as cash, but most of all is used for religious rituals

1500 –

1600 AD
Spanish explorers and missionaries carry the olive to the New World
1524 AD
The first olive trees are planted in New Spain ( Mexico)

LATE 1700 – EARLY 1800 AD

Franciscan missionaries plant olive trees at nineteen of the twenty-one missions along 600 miles of the California coast
1870 AD
Commercial olive oil production begins in California
1900 AD
King Umberto I of Italy prohibits the felling of olive trees on Italian land – a law that still exists today in parts of Italy
1920 AD
European immigrants to the Unites States begin to spread the use of olive oil into American cooking

1980 TO

Knowledge of olive oil expands worldwide as numerous books on health and cooking with olive oil are published
2005 AD
The Passionate Olive touts the many uses of our magical, mystical, precious “liquid gold”
Copyright © 2005 by Carol Firenze Anglin

There are a couple of important milestones that Carole left out. I’ll add them here.

1999 AD

The Menachos follow their hearts and buy what is now known as the Olivas de Oro Estate Orchard

2000 AD

The first Olivas de Oro Estate Extra Virgin Olive Oil is produced and available in the signature cobalt blue gift bottle. It wins a silver medal at the Oils of the World Competition. Olivas de Oro olive oils have won medals every year since 2000.

2003 AD

Frank is certified as a member of the Panel of Tasters sponsored by the California Olive Oil Council in cooperation with the University of California at Davis. As a member of the Panel of Tasters, he has undergone a rigorous training and certification program that follows the guidelines of the International Olive Oil Council in Madrid, Spain.

2004 AD

Olivas de Oro Olive Company incorporates under Oro Organics, Inc. to further expand and promote sustainable farming and organic products. Still owned and managed by the Menachos, we introduce a new line of flavored olive oils that are cold pressed, old world style lacto-fermented olives, and olive oil soap.

2005 AD
Frank is selected to be a judge at the Oils of the World Competition and is in good company with other certified tasters from the US, Italy, Spain, and Australia.
2006 AD
The Menachos purchase 160 acres in Creston, California and begin preparations for a new orchard, pressing facility, and tasting room. Approximately 200 of our old growth organic olive trees will be relocated from our Oroville orchard.
2007 AD
The orchard relocation from Oroville to Creston is complete! The 103 year old heritage trees have a new home.