Olival da Risca
At Risca Grande, we manage approximately 220 ha. Over 35,000 olive trees grow on 170 ha, some of which are up to 800 years old. In our groves we focus on Portuguese olive varieties: Cobrançosa, Galega Vulgar, Cordovil, Galega Grada de Serpa, Gamenha, Verdeal, Carrasquenha, Mançanilha. Besides this, we also grow lemons, limes, tangerines, herbs and spices ourselves to Demeter standards and quality. A small herd of cows also live at Risca Grande.
The olive fruit fly uses olives for its egg laying. However, its development is inhibited at high temperatures. Although the Summer heat of Alentejo is difficult to endure for Humans and plants, at the same time it reduces the risk of an infestation of the olives. It is our desire to use farming methods which are as close as possible to nature. Already today there is no cultivation of the areas of biodiversity. We are currently investing in hedges that offer beneficial organisms another habitat.
Dung and olive-pomace are the ingredients of our home-produced bio-dynamic compost for gentle fertilisation and soil fertility maintenance of our olive groves. When the olive trees form new shoots and leaves in the spring, and once they show the first flowers, it is time to protect them from pests or disease. Only this way can the growth of healthy olives be secured.
The goal of our cultivation methods is to promote soil fertility. Because: A balanced and rich soil has a positive effect on the intensity of the flavors of olive oil. The vegetation between the rows of trees is mulched three times a year, that is, mowed, chopped and spread under the trees. Thus the soil is protected against erosion. At the same time the plant cover protects against dehydration and promotes soil life.
Our olive harvest takes place from late October to late December. For the harvest, we use a modern machine which is gentle on the trees and the fruit. With the use of a shaker mounted to the tractor, the olives are shaken to fall on nets which are laid out under the rows of trees.
The old trees - special specimens - with their knobby trunks and large crowns are harvested more labor-intensively by hand. They are also less productive than the trees of younger plantations. From the olives of these centuries-old trees we produce our 'Olival da Risca Antique'.
The health of the olives is another important factor for the quality of the oil. We carefully make an effort at harvest that early fruits which have already fallen to the ground are kept out of the production process. The harvested olives are picked in the grove several times a day. So they arrive within a few hours to our oil mill without any intermediate storage.
The ripeness of the olives is crucial for the development of the three positive tasting criteria of an olive oil - fruitiness, bitterness and pungency. When the olives begin to change colour from green to violet the best results can be expected.
It is important for us to bottle our production ourselves in our modern bottling facility. Thus, the entire process from the growth of the crop to the olive oil production is in our hands. Only because the whole production process takes place at Risca Grande, can we guarantee compliance with the highest quality standards.
A unique selling proposition of our oil mill located directly on the estate is that we process exclusively homegrown Demeter-olives. All of olive groves belonging to the family company are located within five kilometers of the oil mill. These short transport distances allow us to produce, with the highest level of preservation, an extra virgin olive oil out of the fresh olives from the field, in less than four hours after harvest.
First of all, the olive oil contained in the pulp is separated with a centrifuge. Immediately after the separation of the oil, it is gently filtered through cellulose filters to remove remaining crop residues. The oil is then stored until bottling in large stainless steel tanks in our air-conditioned warehouse.
Olival da Risca website