24 May

Olive Farm in Arizona

Owner expands olive business

Queen Creek Olive Mill owner and master blender Perry Rea is expanding his business.Independent Newspapers/Angela De Welles

By Angela De Welles, Independent Newspapers

What started off as just a hobby has turned into a unique Queen Creek business venture that produces gallons of premium extra virgin olive oil.

Now, owner and master blender Perry Rea is looking to expand.

The Queen Creek Olive Mill, located at 25062 S. Meridian Road, is so unique that Mr. Rea can boast he has the only olive farm in Arizona that harvests the crop exclusively for olive oil.

After years spent experimenting in creating different blends of oil, he has been able to sell his brand over the Internet and in the business world for corporate gifts with much success.

The Queen Creek oil is also available in some stores, including AJ’s Fine Foods and Sportsman’s Fine Wines and Spirits.

But now Mr. Rea is ready to take it to the next level. He hopes to sell his blends of oil in bulk to more area restaurants.

Also, starting just this month, the Queen Creek Olive Mill has been opened to the public for tours, tastings and a press-your-own olive oil experience.

“You will never get fresher olive oil than you’ll get here,” he said.

Visitors to the mill will see first hand just how fresh that oil is and how it is produced.

First, the olives are handpicked from the 1,000 trees on site. Mr. Rea plans to add to that by planting another 500 soon.

Next, the olives are washed and put into a mill. A hammer-like device mashes the olives and then they’re turned for about 40 minutes.

“That’s when the oil droplets can begin to find each other,” said Rob Holmes, the sales and marketing director for the mill.

The finished oil is then separated from the water and solid pieces of the leftover olives. The extra virgin olive oil is filtered and stored without oxygen until it is time for blending and bottling.

“We go through a minimal amount of processing,” Mr. Holmes said.

The fact that they do not use heat or solvents to extract the oil is what designates the finished product as “extra virgin.”

Mr. Rea, a former employee of the automotive industry in Detroit, explained that great care goes into each batch.

“We treat the olive like a fruit,” he said. “We process our olives within 48 hours.”

Mr. Rea moved with his family from Detroit to Arizona years ago and at first had a small olive farm in Eloy.

The crop from that farm was sold primarily for canning. When he transplanted the trees from Eloy to Queen Creek about three years ago, the focus switched to olive oil.

Besides opening the business to the public for tours and tastings, Mr. Rea is also opening his mill to local growers.

“We’re a co-op press,” he said.

Anyone can bring in his or her olive crop in and the Queen Creek Olive Mill will press it, in exchange for a share of the olive oil it produces, Mr. Rea said.

But it takes a lot of olives. One ton of olives can produce 10 to 30 gallons of oil, depending on the variety of olive. Mr. Rea’s farm produces about 30 tons of olives each season.

The olive-pressing only takes place from mid-October through mid-December, during the harvest season.

Visitors to the farm located northwest of the intersection of Rittenhouse Road and Meridian Road, can catch a tour, demonstration or browse the gift shop Wednesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. (tours end at 2 p.m.). The mill is also open Sundays from noon to 4 p.m., though no pressings take place.

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3 Responses to “Olive Farm in Arizona”

  1. Norma Rea Says:

    It’s great what you’ve accomplished!

    Have a great holiday with your family.

    Aunt Norma

  2. John A. Pratt Says:

    Hello to a former employer!

    Perry will remember me as a former employee of Formrite Tube in London, Ontario. I began my career there in 1984 (25 years so far) as a truck driver and stayed with the company up until the Siebe Corporation buyout and was eventually laid off in 1998. I had moved from London, Ont. to Michigan in 1990 and worked out of the former Auburn Hills head office of Formrite. I know Perry will also remember Paul Mendonca who I went to High School with.

    My wife of just over 15 years and I live in Plymouth, Mi. and I have been in the automotive car haul business for the last ten years. Unfortunately I missed the recent “Dirty Jobs” episode but I’m sure I’ll catch it as a rerun in the future. I was recently doing a Google search of former friends and employers I used to know and low and behold several pictures of Perry and the olive business came up. Ah… the internet.

    Reading the various reviews and plans for the future it all seems to be going well and hopefully less stressful than the automotive supply business was. Formrite was quite an industry in it’s heyday. I occasionally have the opportunity to travel to and from the west coast and if I get the chance I’ll try to make a stop at the Olive Mill.

    I wish Perry and his staff a bright future and continued success.

    Just in case Perry doesn’t remember me I was the good looking one always hanging around Marilyn’s desk waiting for paperwork. LOL!

  3. diana Says:

    are you the guy that comes to Napa, CA?

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