Peter and Frances Baylis bought their seven hectares in early 2005 to keep their country view and move back to the land where Frances grew up. The property came with fourteen hundred established four year old olive trees. They both like the country and enjoy being outside in the fresh air. “A happy wife means a happy life,” Peter laughs.
The Baylis grove contains a variety of trees including the Tuscan variety of Leccino, Frantoio and Pendolino trees. Pruning has been an important factor for them, and Peter says he is still trying to catch up for the unpruned years immediately after they moved in.
Olive trees need sunlight and air to penetrate their centre. Pollination is performed by wind so unpruned trees have poor pollination and damp leaves which can develop fungi diseases. Pruning also shapes trees for mechanical, tree trunk shaker harvesting.
Harvesting, which generally lasts a week, needs to be well planned.
Once picked, the Baylis' fruit is delivered to the press within twelve hours as olives deteriorate quickly, and taint the oil. Cool climate olives contain less oil because of early harvesting. Intense flavour is one the advantages and researchers have discovered that greener, more virgin olive oils also have greater health benefits.
They bring their thick, green oil home in a stainless steel vat and store it in a cool dark space. Early harvested extra virgin oil, properly stored, keeps two years before deteriorating.