VIRTUALLY NO HARVEST
Sad to say, the 2019 olive harvest was the smallest we’ve ever had
at our Fiesole farm. The culprits were climate change and microclimate. The 2018 harvest had been huge–the most abundant we’d had since we started our business in 1988–and as a result we were expecting a small yield this time around, because fruit trees tend to produce according to a rhythm of fat years and lean years. But the peculiarities of weather made a lean year an almost non-existent one. We harvested only enough oil to make up four and a half cases!
It was a long, cold spring and early summer in Fiesole, a phenomenon which is increasingly experienced in the area and appears to be due to climate change. Because of the cool weather, the flowering was delayed and did not begin until well into June. Then the heat came on very suddenly, and it was intense heat: temperatures climbed to over 100 degrees fahrenheit. The fierce heat caused the the olives trees to drop their blossoms, at which point the harvest was already a lost cause. No blossoms means no fruit means no oil.
What this means in turn is that we have no oil to offer and won’t be importing any come spring. We apologize to our customers, but we have no wish to bring in old olive oil or oil acquired from other properties. As far as we are concerned, the whole point of making La Bontà di Fiesole is to produce the best olive oil possible, and we would rather wait a year than offer anything but the best. When we have our new olive oil on hand once again (with luck that will be in spring of 2021), we will beat the drums loudly and announce the renewed availability.
In the meantime, if you are looking for olive oil to tide you over, the best one widely available is possibly the oil made by Badia a Coltibuono, which is a winery in the Chianti region south of Florence. (As mentioned above, microclimate counts, and the groves south of the Arno flowered more than a week earlier than did ours and thus had set fruit before the hot spell came on.) Badia a Coltibuono’s olive oil is a commercial product and made in large quantities, and it isn’t cheap, either. All the same, it might be your best alternative until La Bontà di Fiesole returns.
During the coming year, please do get in touch with us if you wish. We will keep you posted as to the progress of the growing season and the result of the next harvest. We’ll hope for much better luck. For now, we wish you Happy Holidays and many good things during the coming year.
Best to all,
Spencer and George
[Posted December 21, 2019]