The Olive Mill

Under the villa is the privately-owned, traditional olive press, where the olives are cold-pressed by stone grinders. On this estate, tradition melds with innovation; all of the machinery, for instance, is made of stainless steel. To speed up the extraction process, a robot has been installed to facilitate the work of the olive millers. The estate mills its own olives exclusively, in the months of November and December.

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In the past, there were two olive mills on the property, one at Sorbetole, first owned by the Martelli family, then by the Medici, and one at Volmiano, owned by the Cerretani family.

When the Gondi family inherited the property in the early 19th century, they closed down the olive mill at Sorbetole and enlarged the one at Volmiano, concentrating all of the production on the underground level of the ancient tower. Volmiano thus became the headquarters of the estate.

The methods applied for harvesting, washing and pressing the olives are all aimed at enhancing the typical characteristics of a product whose superior quality has been affirmed over the centuries.

The olives are harvested mainly by hand, placed in plastic boxes and stored in well-ventilated rooms. However, they remain in the storage area for a very short time, since they are pressed within the next 48 hours. The top-quality autochthonous olives are stripped of their leaves, washed in cold water and then sent to the stone olive grinders. Here they are crushed into a coarse pulp, which is then put in a kneader, where it is delicately mixed. With the aid of a robot, the olive pulp is spread over filters called pouches, which are piled in a column and then pressed by hydraulic presses. The pressing separates the liquid from the solid part, the olive residue, without raising the temperature. The residue is sold to special processing plants. The liquid part, composed of water and olive oil, is then separated with a centrifuge that does not heat the product. With this type of olive mill the yield is lower, since olive oil is extracted less easily without heat, but the product is of the highest quality, retaining all of the organoleptic properties characteristic of olives.

The ancient olive mill with stone grinders and traditional presses has been partially modernized to upgrade the production process, facilitate the work of the olive millers, and furnish a product that is perfect as regards both quality and hygiene.

Most of the iron parts in the old olive mill have been replaced by stainless steel: from the basin where the olives are crushed, to the kneader, to the disks on the presses, to the separator and the basins where the oil accumulates. A robot, designed to optimize processing time, has also been installed in the production line.

The ancient terra-cotta jars where the olive oil was once stored are now proudly displayed only to retain the memory and the traditional appearance of the rooms. The extra-virgin olive oil is now stored under nitrogen in stainless steel containers, which conserve the high quality and intense fragrance of this superior product. In this olive mill, only organically-grown olives produced on the estate are pressed.