25 Nov

California, Lodi’s latest fruit

By Marc Lutz,

Grapes may always be king, but olive crops could hold steady second.

A lumbering beast crawls along the ground in the olive orchards near Kingdon and Thornton roads, gobbling up the green-black fruit from hundreds of trees. The grape-sized olives are then spit into a large plastic bin to be transported to their final fate: olive oil.

It’s olive harvesting time in Lodi, and for Ben Kolber and Kris Gutierrez, owners of KG Vineyard Management in Woodbridge, it’s a true learning experience.

Kolber, who comes from a long line of farmers — with roots going back 50 years in Lodi agriculture — said that the machine collecting the bitter little fruit is a modified grape harvester. Curtains have been added to the area where the olives are pulled from the tree, and chutes are added onto the ends where the olives are dropped into the bins.

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