Olive Oils of Excellence-Darro Grieco

Keys to Olive Oils of Excellence

By Darro Grieco

Berkeley Olive GroveBerkeley Olive Grove produces food of true natural value via traditional agriculture’s healthy soil, air, and rainwater. This is not a modern industrial operation dependent on artificial means. Art and science, tradition, and technology can achieve healthful foods with wonderful taste and other beneficial food and nonfood products along with environmental sustainability and improvement. Earth’s current challenges can bring salutary benefits from what has simply been formerly wasted.

Organic dry-farmed practices have produced high international awards annually. Research has reported a newly discovered phenol (oleomissional), a newly discovered natural constituent important for health (elenolide), and the highest-ever measured level of another important constituent (oleuropein aglycon). Berkeley Olive Grove 1913’s robust olive oil is of the top 2.5 percent of 2,500 better olive oils worldwide analyzed in terms of phenolics (polyphenols) by World Olive Labs. It has proven exceptional stability through time—and a long shelf life.

Rich History and the Foundation of Exemplary Olive OilDarro and Olivia

In 1897, the USDA and the University of California, Berkeley began olive oil–quality studies. After Berkeley professors’ personal research, a plot of 400 acres in a Mediterranean climate belt in Northern California was selected and purchased.

Calling it a 1,000-year investment (olive trees can live 1,000 years), in the spring of 1913 the professors planted Mission olive trees as a state-of-the-art project, the Berkeley Olive Grove—reported as the largest Mission olive operation in the world. Mission is the heirloom olive variety brought by Franciscan missionaries in the 1700s to the missions established along the Pacific Coast.

More than 100 years later, Berkeley Olive Grove is a place of exceptional production quality and serene beauty. A traditionally planted sustainable grove (65 trees per acre versus super-high-density industrial plantings of 620-720 trees per acre) produces food of value for the body. The harmony of taste and scientific journal–reported health benefits continue.

While using innovative technologies, such as the quest for sequestering carbon and water, the orchard still knows people more than machines. Specific milling techniques complete the science and art that produce Berkeley Olive Grove 1913 olive oils.

In these ways Berkeley Olive Grove differs greatly from newer mechanically pruned and harvested super-high-density operations. The age of the trees, the terroir, and the dry farming produce rich, quality extra virgin olive oils that are unique in terms of exquisite flavors, very high antioxidants, exemplary stability, and important bioactive constituents. The excellence of these extra virgin olive oils is the result of superior orchard production through milling methods and practices.


  • Extra virgin olive oil is a raw food with live enzymes, improved by being produced at lower temperatures; it’s a monounsaturated fat that raises HDL but lowers LDL.
  • Antioxidants are found in phenols. The average polyphenol content reported by UC, Davis Olive Center in 2010 and 2011 was 222 mg caffeic acid/kg oil. California industrial agriculture olive oils in the report were 41 percent of average. Berkeley Olive Grove 1913 olive oils measured 159 percent (analyzed by an independent laboratory); the average of the 2016 release is 472 gallic, approximately 213 percent of the average.
  • The primary measure of olive oil stability, usually “acidity” on labels, is the oxidized oleic fatty acids (lower is better). The international allowance is 0.8 percent. California Olive Oil Council’s is 0.5 percent. Berkeley Olive Grove 1913 offerings have ranged 0.05 percent to 0.28 percent.

Mission Statement

Our mission is to advance and educate about sustainable agriculture practices and products for environmental and public benefit.

The “Berkeley Olive Grove 1913” olive oil from Oroville, California, produced in November 2015 showed very high levels of natural biophenols with proven anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, cardioprotective, and neuroprotective activity when analyzed by World Olive Labs. The oil biophenol levels ranked among the top 2.5 percent of worldwide olive oils analyzed by World Olive Labs from 2010 to 2015. (Edited excerpts by Agbiolab from “Berkeley Olive Grove” report by World Olive Labs, dated 12/30/2015.)

The Oils

California Mission Classic 551: A balanced robust oil with a nice finish one remembers. Exceptionally high in total phenols. Highest-ever-recorded level of oleuropein aglycon (delays onset of Alzheimer’s).*

California Mission Gold: A medium–robust-intensity oil that pairs well with a large variety of foods. It is produced from nonindustrial agriculture practices and without petroleum-based or other synthetic chemicals. Very high total phenols.*

California Mission Reserve: Medium-robust. Soft fruit and buttery with a hint of green, balanced with condiment bitterness and pungency. Higher than average total phenols.*

Berkeley Olive GroveMission Olives & Lisbon Lemon; Mission Olives & Blood Orange: California Mission Citrus is late-harvest Mission olives and lemon or blood orange milled together. Wonderfully complements salads, cooked vegetables, and fish. Great for baking, desserts, paired with vanilla ice cream or watermelon.

*Descriptions taken from 2016 New York International Olive Oil Competition

Berkeley Olive Grove oils are available online at www.berkeleyolivegrove.com and at health-food stores such as S&S Produce and Chico Natural Foods in Chico.