10 years ago Bonnie Storm and Nena Talcott decided to join forces and start Grove 45 EVOO, named after the year they were both born. We like to brag that we got Social Security, Medicare, and started a new company in the same year. Between us we have 55 years of farming experience. Nena and her then husband farmed grapes and also produced extra virgin olive oil. I became interested in olives before I even had the ranch, which I bought in 1992 in Chilies Valley just east of St. Helena in the Napa Valley.
I had read about a fledgling organization called the Northern California Olive Oil Council, founded by Lila Jaeger. They offered a production tour of Italian groves and I signed up. Fellow travelers were Nan McEvoy, Lila, Bart and Daphne Aurajo, Greg Reisenger and Ridgley Evers, to name a few. Subsequently I purchased my ranch and in 1994 and imported 1000 Tuscan trees from Italy. I found myself to be the secretary of the NCOOC at Lila’s urging. It was a very exciting time for this group of pioneers whose mission was to educate consumers about EVOO…what it was and why it was so good, among other things.
After 15 years of producing Storm Olive Ranch EVOO I began to wonder what my direction was to be going forward At the same time Nena had divorced and sold all the vineyards and wondered about her future as well. Hello Grove 45 EVOO.
The NCOOC had become the California Olive Oil Council. It was an ever more important educational arm for we California producers. It got”truth in labeling” legislation passed in Sacramento. It introduced the Seal Certification process whereby consumers could be 100% sure about the contents of containers that displayed the seal.
The California Olive Oil Council has worked tirelessly for all of us in the California olive oil industry. Their outreach is now international helping bring California EVOO to Japan.