History of Olive Oil

Olive oil has been documented in ancient literature as a source of sustenance and healing to peoples of the Mediterranean region. And Homer even revered olive oil as “liquid gold” in The Illiad. At Temecula Olive Oil Company, we have discovered that Southern California olive oil is indeed causing a gold rush.

The Olive Tree

The olive tree has its “roots” in the Mediterranean region as early as 8000 BC. And the juice of the olive fruit has been evidenced as early as 3500 BC to provide a source of food and healing. The history of olive oil includes uses in religious ceremonies from ancient until modern times. And olive oil was so esteemed that it has even been discovered in tombs of Egyptian kings. The economic importance of olive oil from ancient times cannot be underestimated.

The hardiness of the olive tree and its centuries-long lifespan contribute to the spread of its cultivation throughout Western civilization. And the tree’s deep and wide root system enable its survival in dry climates. This is especially true near the sea where the salt content of the underground water supply is high. So perhaps it is this knowledge that encouraged the Spanish missionaries to bring olive trees with them to The New World in the 16th Century. Because they knew they could provide a source of economic sustenance. In addition they could cultivate olives for olive oil to be used in their religious practices.

In 1769, Spanish missionaries planted the first Southern California olive groves at Mission San Diego de Alcala. The soil and climate are as ideal to support the growth of olive trees as the soil and climate in the Mediterranean. And by the late 1700’s, Southern California olive oil was included in the writings of Alexander von Humboldt. He reported it to be “equal to that of Andalusia,” a coastal region in Spain where the climate is also similar to the Mediterranean.

Olive Oil in California

The history of olive oil in southern California starts with its first commercial production in the early 1800’s. And it was revered for its quality, rivaling that produced in the Mediterranean region. Today, family-owned and operated Temecula Olive Oil Company has a ranch located near coastal San Diego. This is where the first olive groves were planted in Southern California. And Temecula Olive Oil Company produces premium Southern California olive oil using a cold, hand pressing process like that which was used in ancient times. Additionally, every drop of extra virgin olive oil produced by Temecula Olive Oil Company every season is consumed. And those who have tasted Temecula Olive Oil Company’s quality products rush back for more. So taste for yourself the extra virgin olive oil, olive oil blends, fine balsamic vinegars and artisan foods that are crafted by hand at Temecula Olive Oil Company.

EVOO Facts


1. Extra virgin olive oil is the purest form of olive oil and therefore the most nutrient-rich.

2. Substituting two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil per day for saturated fats, such as animal and dairy fats, will improve your health inside and out.

3. This first pressing of olive oil is called extra virgin olive oil, which is the purest, most nutrient-rich form available, therefore providing the best health benefits.

4. True extra virgin olive oil can only be produced when the olives are cold pressed to prevent decomposition. It is never heated or infused with other oils.

5. In 23 countries, the International Olive Oil Council (IOOC) governs the quality and classification of olive oils and only true extra virgin olive oils–defined as containing no more than .8 grams of oleic acid per 100 grams of olive oil–are allowed to be marked as extra virgin olive oil.

6. Many imported olive oils labeled as extra virgin olive oil are diluted with safflower, canola, soy, hazelnut and other oils to extend the supply and reduce the cost, allowing for mass production.

7. 99% of olive oil sold in the United States is imported, and the USDA does not require its standards to be met before a producer labels olive oil as extra virgin. Therefore, you may be getting an inferior, diluted version when you buy olive oil.

8. Extra virgin olive oils are judged by the IOOC not by color or scent, but by taste. They are sipped from dark blue glasses that are tapered at the top, so color cannot be determined. They must have noticeable levels of fruitiness, bitterness and pepperiness and not any level of sixteen officially-defined taste flaws.9. Enemies of olive oil are heat, air, light, and age.