In our relationship, we partner directly with the orchard owner. There is no middle-man strictly acting as a merchant to buy massive quantities and re-bottle as their own. And all of our olive oils are certified by the California Olive Oil Council (COOC). It is the only organization that currently provides olive oil grade certification in the United States (although a USDA-sanctioned certification program will follow finalization of a proposed revision to the current U.S. Standards for Grades of Olive Oil).
The direct and uncomplicated supply chain relationship ensures the freshest and highest quality olive oils from each harvest. Removing the middle man from the equation ensures there is no undisclosed blending or mixing of inferior olive oils into the harvest to water down the supply in attempts to increase the quantity while lessening the quality.
Prior to 2014, different organizations used different rules for classifying an olive oil as extra virgin olive oil. We can unequivocally tell you there is no gold standard that is followed by all regions that produce extra virgin olive oil. That means there was plenty of room for manipulation and downright fraud within the olive oil classifications. However, in 2014, California passed the Grade and Labeling Standards for Olive Oil, Refined-Olive Oil and Olive-Pomace Oil, which are highly restrictive regarding (among other things) use of the phrase/classification extra virgin olive oil. The law includes clear tolerances with respect to chemical testing and sensory (gustatory) testing. For producers of greater than 5,000 gallons of olive oil annually, every batch must be tested by external testing agencies to ensure that they are properly classifying their olive oil grades, and the results must be submitted to the CDFA. Perhaps more importantly, the law authorizes random testing of any of these producers by the CDFA to confirm that what producers are submitting is accurate.