Our story begins in 1993, when Sofie arrived in the US (Silicon Valley) via Denmark and Australia to pursue her business dreams. We met as co-workers at Claris Corp., where I happened to work two cubicles down the hallway. As fate would have it, we married a year later. Shortly after the arrival of our first daughter, Mia, a combination of restlessness and spontaneity set in and we sought a change, deciding to pack up and move to the hilltop town of Cortona, in the heart of Tuscany. I brought my bicycle and rode throughout Tuscany and Umbria, following the Giro d'Italia and local races, drank espresso from every bar near and far, and, miraculously, improved upon my Italian.
Our landord, Signore A. Belelli, had a beautiful, sprawling estate, with hundreds of old growth olive trees, a working wine cellar and a converted horse stall for his lemon trees from Capri. Sr. Belelli and I spent many mornings bottling wine in the damp cellar, sampling limoncello in the late morning, and, above all, tasting his gorgeous estate extra virgin olive oil. The seed, as they say, was planted.
In early 2002, with Sofie now at medical school and Mia and Eva in elementary school, I was laid off. To take my mind off the job search, I went on a much needed bike ride to clear my head. On the outskirts of Winters, I meandered down a side road called Olive School Lane, and the surrounding area brought me back to 1996 and Tuscany, with rolling hills, vineyards, and assorted fruit and olive trees. Upon hearing that there was land for sale on that same road, I drove out to the site, called Sofie and said “we have to buy this land!”.
Seven years after that Italian sojourn, Signore Belelli’s olive oil still left a lovely peppery, herbaceous memory in our minds. Unable to find the same quality olive oil in California, Sofie and I set about planting a 2-acre olive orchard on our new land with Italian varietals from the Tuscan region of Cortona.