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This book is the product of a collaborative project. We owe much of what we learned about olives and olive oil to the hundreds of grove owners, producers, scientists, and professionals who gave so generously of their time. We are indebted to you all. We hope we have faithfully told your stories.

We especially wish to thank the following individuals for providing feedback to us for individual chapters: Dimitri Gutas; Professor Arabic and Greek Arabic Studies, Yale University, New Haven, USA; John Chandler, Headmaster emeritus, Robert College, Istanbul, Turkey; Xavier Rius, Engineer of Agriculture at Agromillora, Spain; Arend Hofmeyr, owner Portion 36, Stellenbosch, South Africa; Mücahit Taha Özkaya, Professor of Agriculture, Ankara University, Turkey; Cahit Tunç, Retired R&D Chief of Tariş Cooperative, Turkey; Mayo Ryan, Producer, Vice President, California Olive Ranch, USA; Hakan Barçın, Olive Oil Producer, Cofounder of Taşköy, Foça, Turkey; Virginia Brown Keyder, International Law Specialist, Instructor at Boğaziçi, Sabancı and Birmingham Universities, Turkey and USA; Selina Wang, Professor UC Davis, leader of UC Davis Olive Oil Laboratory, Davis, CA, USA; Selin Ertür, Selatin Olive Oil Producer, Oleologist, MIPAAF Official Olive Oil Taster, Turkey; Sue Langstaff, owner Applied Sensory, LLC and Olive Oil Sensory Panel Leader, Davis, CA, USA; Kevser Özden Pişkin, Professor of Biochemistry, Hacettepe University, Ankara Turkey; Linda Costa, Author, Taster, Stellenbosch, South Africa; Zerrin İren Boynudelik, Author, Professor Art History Yıldız University, Istanbul, Turkey. Their help shaped the work you have read in only positive ways. Thank you! We alone are responsible for any misunderstandings or misrepresentations that remain in the text.

Another source of valuable feedback came from students in our classes taught at Keene State College Fall 2015 HONORS 290 and Boğaziçi University Fall 2014, Summers 2015 and 2016 CHEM 485. We find our students to be a constant source of inspiration. Our favorite student quote after reading an early version of the planting chapter is: “I had NO idea that there were so many decisions that needed to be made before you could plant a tree!

Across the world, we were fortunate to visit five continents and nine countries. We should include each and every one of the several hundred people who gave us so much of their time, but space precludes our doing that. Instead we will highlight a few of the many, and let them stand for all of you.

We spent the majority of our time together in Turkey and we feel the most indebted to those who helped launch this project. Besides those mentioned above, the following people were instrumental to our learning: Artun Ünsal, Ümmühan Tibet, and Murat İsfendiyaroğlu, who enlightened and intrigued us as olive and olive oil experts. Meltem Türköz, who made us see the olive and olive oil from a local and cultural perspective along with Ulrike Muss and İklil Erefe Selçuk. Zerrin İren Boynudelik, who introduced us to the archeological and historical perspectives of olives. Funda Barbaros, Meneviş, and Uzbay Pirili helped us understand the economical perspective of olive oil production. Christian Wernz, Ahmet Kutsi Nircan, Ali Rana Atılgan, and Dora Üretken challenged us to think about the engineering perspective of olive oil production. Derya Ülker and Burcu Delen helped us to interact with olives through the performing and visual arts.

We are especially grateful to the residents of Yeni Foça and staff of Nesin Math Village, who welcomed us during several Ege’de Atölye Zeytin workshops. Esen Çeşmeci helped to initiate and facilitate our work with the Foça Municipality and Mayor Gökhan Demirağ supported and welcomed us all. I (ZDN) am especially indebted to Ege’de Atölye advisors John Chandler and Hülya Denizalp for motivating me to keep organizing the workshops despite all obstacles. These workshops kept our curiosity and motivation alive for many years and sped up our learning immensely, so it is hard to think of this book becoming a reality without them. The workshops were also made possible thanks to Türk Kültür Vakfı and all members and supporters of Ege’de Atölye, some of whom are listed in the website.

The Chemistry Department at Boğaziçi University in Istanbul is home to ZDN as a part-time instructor and hosted the Fall 2014 sabbatical of two of us (POH and RAB). We are grateful to Viktorya Aviyente, Chair of the Chemistry Department, for making us feel welcome and to Taner Bilgiç, Dean of International Studies and Professor of Industrial Engineering, for helping us with class enrollments, visas, and collaborations across campus. The faculty and staff in the Department of Chemistry were instrumental in making us feel at home.

And, finally, Professor Halil İnalcık, who unfortunately died at age 100 before he could see the publishing of this book, is remembered here for his continuous scholarly and personal encouragement.

While in the Northern Hemisphere in the fall of 2014, we traveled to countries in the Mediterranean to explore harvest and production practices. We know this is by no means a representative sample of groves but cherish the invitations that led us to visit a particular place, as they came with a deeper look at the culture that surrounds the production of oil. We know we have missed whole regions and look forward to a time when we can visit them all.

  • In Catalonia, special thanks to Esther Gelabert, Belianes Consulting Spain, for fostering and organizing international collaborations and to Mayor Josep Ramon and the Municipality of Belianes for inviting us to speak at their Fall 2014 Olive Oil Festival. We were happy to meet Xavier Rius from Agromillora, the largest nursery in the world, and tour their incredible nursery and labs outside of Barcelona.

  • In Italy, thanks to the American Field Service office in Colle di Val d’Elsa for helping us to arrange our trip and get us started. We visited olive groves from small farm owner Guido Tinacci, whose farm goes back 600 years, to larger groves in Principe Corsini in Tuscany. The Mediterranean fruit fly had decimated the crop in Tuscany, and it was a sad but realistic picture of what happens when things don’t go right.

  • In Greece, special thanks to Aris Kefalogiannis of Gaea Olive Oil for helping arrange our visit with Nikos Zachariadis, Director of the Agricultural Cooperative of Kritsa on the island of Crete. Nikos toured us through a most efficiently run olive press at peak harvest time and introduced us to the local cuisine, along with the deft translations from Joanna Sarantopoulou. Our host Argyro Tzanakis made us feel like family during our stay with her, and we’ve promised her we will return.

Two of us (POH and RAB) continued our sabbatical by taking up visiting professorships at University of Stellenbosch in South Africa. This allowed us to experience a second harvest season in the southern hemisphere. We are deeply grateful to Michael Schmeisser, Professor in the Horticultural Department, for hosting our spring 2015 stay. Sitting in on his lectures and being exposed to faculty and students in the department taught us so much about plants and life in South Africa. Mohammed Karaan, Dean of the Faculty of AgriSciences, took a particular interest in our project. We miss our early morning brainstorming sessions with him about the importance of higher education in fostering leadership and entrepreneurial endeavors through projects such as ours. Jonathan Scrimgeour, owner of Buffet Olives in Paarl, invited us early in our stay to meetings of the South African Olive Association and helped us network with South African growers and producers. Arend and Birgitta Hofmeyr, owners of Portion 36 Olive Grove, shared hours with us, usually accompanied by an amazing meal as we picked their brains about tree and grove management and experienced the best ever olive oil ice cream with olive oil praline cookies and fresh picked Catawba grapes. Linda Costa was a valuable friend and encouraged us to follow our instincts and be ambitious in our explorations of the South African olive country.

Our grove visits in South Africa started with a St Patrick’s Day harvest with Bryan Beverley and his team making L’Ormarins oil from sky-high groves at the Antonij Rupert estate. In the late afternoon we went with our picked olives to Loesje Kock’s press in nearby La Bourgogne Farm. At Tokara’s Olive Shed near Stellenbosch, Robert Claasen and operations manager Gert gave us a full tour and tasting. We visited the Morgenster Estate in Sommerset West, where we met up with owner Giulio Bertrand and saw operations with Chris van Niekerk. We toured the groves with farm manager Corius Visser and did a tasting with Judi Dyer. Rob Still of De Rustica hosted a fantastic stay for us in the Klein Karoo, and operations manager Jup Steenkamp shared with us some of his experiments in malaxing and filtering. Barry Anderson and Adriaan David showed us operations at Gariëlskloof (also a fantastic restaurant), and at nearby Anysbos, Johan Heyns gave us a tour of the olives and cheese making station. Sean and Rene White at The Greenleaf Grove gave us a tour of one of the largest groves and presses in South Africa in Malgas, near Cape Algulhas at the very tip of Africa. Anders Rabie at Willow Creek near the Nuy Valley showed us around a newly expanded modern facility. Nick Wilkinson’s Rio Largo Press in the Scherpenheuwel Valley was unique in the way every aspect of the milling process can be monitored and adjusted. Thanks also to Brenda Wilkinson for putting us in touch with Tom Mueller. We also enjoyed getting back into the lab and seeing operations with Raymond Hartley at MicroChem Labs in Capetown.

An invitation from Gerri Nelligan, Editor of the Australian & New Zealand Olivegrower & Processor Newsletter, inspired our quick visit to Australia and New Zealand. In Australia, Paul Miller, former President of Australian Olive Growers Association, helped us with introductions and logistics. Thanks to Claudia Guillaume at Modern Olives lab in Lara for showing us the accredited lab and sensory panel facility; to Jim Rowntree at Tatiara Olive Press in Keith and his wife Lisa, Executive Director of Australian Olive Association, who together with sons and daughter run Longridge Estate in Coonalpyn; to Mike Smith and Leandro Ravetti at Boundary Bend in Murray for allowing us to spend two days with them touring facilities and groves; to Jamie Ayton, Belinda Taylor, and Helen Taylor at the Edible Oil Laboratory in Wagga Wagga; to Peter and Caroline O’Clery at Homeleigh Olives who met us early on a cold Saturday morning at the Canberra Farmer’s Market; and finally to Jeff Konstantino from Fedra Olive Grove. All of you deserve our most sincere thanks.

In New Zealand, Andrew Taylor and Gayle Sheridan of Olives New Zealand helped arrange our visits. Thanks to Bruce McCallum and Billy Hey at The Olive Press who were in the middle of moving their press to a new building; to Mark and Kate Bunny from Loopline Olives in Wairarapa; to Wayne Startup and Tom Casey at The Village Press in Hawkes Bay; to Margie and Ross Legh at The Olive Place in Whangarei; to Anne and Collin Stanimiroff at Rangihoua Grove and Press; and finally to Margaret and John Edwards at Matiatia Grove and Press in Waiheke Island.

In the United States, two of us (POH and RAB) enrolled in a course on Sensory Evaluation of Olive Oil at UC Davis in CA. Thanks to Sue Langstaff who through lectures and hands on tasting taught us how to detect and describe sensory defects. Our favorite Sue quote is “Guys, it’s not rocket science!” Dan Flynn provided valuable information about the background and bigger picture of olive oil issues in the world. Selina Wang brought the whole group through a brilliant synopsis of the chemical hallmarks of good and bad oil. While in California, we visited Pamela Marvel and Stuart Littell in Capay Valley, whose certified organic oils have been recognized widely and garnered 23 gold medals, a Best in Division, a Best in Class in the half dozen years they have been harvesting from trees they planted. We headed up north and visited with Brendon Flynn and Pablo Voitzuk from Pacific Sun in Tehama County whose “Proprietor’s Select” oil has won Best of Show and three gold medals and Tuscan Blend won Best of Class in the high stakes of the New York International Olive Oil Competition. Thanks to Liz Tagami and staff at Lucero Olive Grove, Mill, and shop in Corning where we toured olive groves of every shape and size in the 40 °C+ heat and then did a blissful tasting of their delicious award winning mono-varietal oils inside in the air conditioning, and to Emilio, master miller and former Greek Orthodox brother at Chacewater Winery. Vicki at The Olive Press in Sonoma, who leads dozens of customers every day through olive oil tastings at the grove store, who taught us about her “three pillars of tasting,” and we met Pepe the master miller there who oversees day to day operations at the press. Our final CA visit was with Olga from Olica olive oils, who with her partner Bob is a newcomer to the olive business but full of smarts with ambitious plans that have already paid off in producing some extraordinary oils.

The full stories of all of those visits can be found on our blog: World Olive Press,

Finally, we are grateful to Marcia Grant, the fourth pillar of our Olive Table, who kept us going during early phases of the project. Her position as Rector of Ashezi in Ghana for the last few years led her to turn with bottomless energy and wisdom elsewhere in the later phases of our project.

Financial support through our home institutions of Amherst College and Keene State College for our sabbatical was greatly appreciated. In addition, the Whiting Foundations support was critical to both POH (2013) and RAB (2014) and helped to make this dream a reality.

ZDN is grateful to her family and husband for all their support.

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