Récolte des olives au Château Léoube, producteur en Provence

Harvest of olives

Soon after the grape harvest is finished, our team starts the olive picking. On the estate, fifteen people work hard to harvest the delicate fruits of our 6,000 olive trees on our wind-blown Mediterranean shores.

This is a crucial step that requires constant attention and a traditional know-how. In fact, the beginning of the Olivade, as it is called in Provence, is never chosen randomly; it relies on some very select criteria: the olive variety, their maturity, their veraison (the moment when the colour of the olives changes and they become ripe) and, of course, the weather conditions – the olives are sensitive to rain and temperature changes. These are all key elements in guaranteeing the highest quality olive oil.

In Provence, the olives are usually harvested in November. The coastal humidity means our team need to start the harvest earlier in the season than with inland orchards in order to prevent pest infestations.

We grow our olive trees according to organic farming principles and without the use of pesticides and chemical products, meaning our olive trees grow according to the rhythm of the seasons. We do not force nature, instead we gently accompany it and let it choose what it wants to bestow upon us. If a year’s yield is not particularly high, we pray that the following year’s yield will be more favourable. This is one of the risks of organic farming.

At Léoube, the olive picking lasts about three weeks. This year, we began by harvesting the variety Cayon followed by the variety Bouteillan. More than fifteen varieties of olives grow on the estate: Provençal or Italian, each has specific characteristics, grows at its own pace and matures at different times. The challenge is to find the right moment to start the harvest because it is not uncommon to find perfectly ripe and completely unripe olives on the same tree. That’s why the expertise of our team is so important: because they know every plot, every tree and every variety.

Our olives are carefully handpicked and handled to avoid damage and preserve all the qualities of the fruit. They are collected by using electric combs which, through gentle vibrations, delicately shake the olives free of the tree and into nets spread underneath the tree beforehand.

Once they have been collected and safely stowed for transport, they are immediately taken away to the mill Haut Jasson for the next step in the olive oil making process.