Apollo Olive Oilwas founded in 1999 by long-time friends who worked together in every way – from caring for the olive trees, to milling the olives, and shipping the oils to our customers. Within a few years the company partnership settled into the current team of Gianni and Diana Stefanini, and Steve McCulley.
Gianni overviews orchard care, and manages all aspects of harvesting, milling and oil production. He first learned to mill on a traditional stone mill, later training extensively with one of the most progressive olive oil masters, Marco Mugelli, then further refining his abilities when Apollo was able to obtain the state-of-the-art Cultivar milling equipment developed by TEM, an engineering firm in Florence, Italy. The Apollo mill is one of just a few such mills in America specifically designed with Marco’s input, to extract the maximum flavor and nutrition from olives. In recent years, COOC has awarded Gianni the Miller’s Recognition Award 3 times.
Diana is involved in many aspects of the orchards and oil production. With a background in winemaking, she plays a key role in tasting and blending decisions.
Steve is behind the scenes everywhere – taking care of the website, accounting, shipping, and customer relations. After offering his help as a small business consultant in the early years, he became a partner when we made the jump to the state-of-the-art milling equipment.
In 2006, with our own Cultivar mill, the polyphenol levels of our oils jumped to nearly three times the common value for Extra Virgin oils. Not only that, but Apollo Olive Oil was judged by a prestigious panel at an international competition, to be among the top 10 olive oil producers in the world. Since then, our oils continue to be highly awarded in the most influential international competitions.
Our olive orchards are on steep Sierra foothill slopes, between 1,800′ and 2,300′ elevation. These ‘mountain-grown’ olive trees have matured under our care since 1998, and contain more than twenty different varieties of French, Italian, Spanish, Greek, and Tunisian origin. The different oils from these varieties give us a broad palette of flavors to work with for blending our oils, and some are regularly singled out for our Gold Series.
Our vision has always been based on working towards excellence, promoting health, and enhancing the pleasures of sharing good food. Excellence is a reward in itself, and we take pride and pleasure in the challenge of achieving it. Promoting health is what inspires us to manage our orchards and oil production organically, and importantly – to pursue the maximum extraction of beneficial nutrients for the benefit of all who imbibe our oils. For instance, our website provides the polyphenol, tocopherol, and total antioxidant values for each of our olive oils.
COOC certification is a key factor in our growing success, because it assures our customers that our oils are sourced locally, their analyses meets extra virgin standards, and their excellence has been verified by COOC well-trained tasters.