When we tell people the story of how we bought an olive orchard and started making extra virgin olive oil in 2014, the reactions we get make it clear that we are actually living a common dream—leave the “old life” behind, start an adventure with the person you love, learn a new skill, and create something amazing. We started this journey by falling in love, with each other, then falling in love with a 10-acre farm in the tiny and charming town of San Miguel, a few miles outside of Paso Robles on the Central Coast of California. With little practical knowledge about farming, we dove in head first learning everything we could about the best growing practices for olives, making the highest quality olive oil and sustainably nourishing the land we grow on. The inspiration for our name, came from Shaana’s maternal grandmother Julia Boccabella Maglio, who introduced Shaana to Italian-American cooking before she could even read. And always on Grandma Julia’s kitchen counter? A gallon of olive oil. Our labels feature original works of Grandma Julia and Grandpa Antonio done by Shaana’s mother, Lucy Rahman, 50 years before we started our farm. The name and the artwork fell together as if this was always meant to be.
Our shared passion for food helped spark our drive to not just make olive oil but to create a unique, hand-crafted, small batch, award winning product certified as Extra Virgin Olive Oil through the rigorous standards of the California Olive Oil Council.
Since that fateful day in 2014 when the real estate agent handed us the keys and our dream became our reality, we haven’t looked back. Truth be told, there hasn’t even been a minute of free time to look back and that suits us just fine. Johnny’s background as a chef in the Bay Area for decades was the launching point for creating olive oils that you don’t just save for a special occasion, but you use each and every day to enhance the flavors in the food you cook for your family. Great extra virgin olive oil isn’t a condiment, but an ingredient.
With just the two of us handling everything from working the orchard, to harvest, to bottling, labeling and shipping our extra virgin olive oil, the demands of our small business are heavy but the rewards have been tremendous. Whenever we do olive oil tastings, we get to watch in delight as someone who has only had “store bought” olive oil, takes the first slurp of ours. We take in how their eyes widen, they smile, and then utter “that’s delicious, what’s in this?” We discuss how they taste pepper, spice, maybe a bit of artichoke, and then we tell them that what they’re tasting is simply beautiful olives, handpicked at the height of their ripeness, and quickly milled into extra virgin olive oil. Once they taste the difference, they don’t go back.
Now, more than ever, people want to know where their food comes from and how it is grown. We can point to the spot where the olives came from. Our growing process is simple, really—we water the trees, the oh so plentiful sun and heat in San Miguel helps the olives grow, and the soil that nourishes the trees is fed a cover crop diet. Food should be simple, delicious, and made with integrity and love. We make that happen. It’s what we think about when we wake up in the morning, when we go to sleep at night, and all the time in between.
Peace & Love,
Shaana and Johnny