The Olive Harvest

Mavis In La Campiña

Mavis In La Campiña

We have discovered the best campsite in Spain…it is La Campiña, a smallish site tucked away in the Andalucian olive groves about 20 miles south of Córdoba.

Andalucia

Andalucia

The name La Campiña translates as a region of rolling hills and fertile land.

La Campiña

La Campiña

The site is run by Mathilde, originally from Madrid who came here aged seven when her parents started the campsite, and her husband Rik, from Holland.

Malc and Carel

Malc and Carel

Malc and Carel, two fellow motorhomers and friends of Rik and Mathilde. The six of us shared home-cooked paella the day after we arrived.

On Saturday we walked down in to the Olive Groves which surround the campsite to meet the olive pickers; after a dry few weeks the harvest has started.

Ripening.

Ripening.

Black or green, they are all picked at the same time. The fruit here goes to the local processing unit to be turned in to olive oil.

The Nets

The Nets

First the ground is covered in nets, then a tractor comes along with a tree shaking attachment (don’t see many of those in Cumbria) and shakes quite a lot of the olives on to the nets.

Stripping the Olives

Stripping the Olives

Then a team of men with electric forks…clever devices with reciprocating tines…strip out any fruit still attached.

The Team

The Team

What a friendly bunch….as soon as we pitched up they formed up into a line for a photograph.

Picking up the Nets

Picking up the Nets

This guy picks up the nets and pulls the olives into a big hopper on the front of one of the tractors.

Olive Hopper

Olive Hopper

The Olive Groves

The Olive Groves

As soon as the hopper is full it gets decanted into a bigger trailer.

You will meet the olives again, a bit later in this post.

At the weekend, we cycled through the olives to San Sebastian de Los Ballesteros for wine and tapas.

Ready for planting

Ready for planting

There has been a long dry spell and the farmers are waiting for rain before they plant for next year.

Cafe in San Sebastian

Cafe in San Sebastian

 Santaella

Santaella

On Monday Mathilde drove us to Santaella, the quiet town close by, which has been the centre of this agricultural region for many centuries.

As with much of Andalucia the town was a Moorish settlement at the beginning of the last millennium. The minaret by the church at the top of the town marks the site of the old mosque.

Minaret

Minaret

Bishops's Crest

Bishops’s Crest

Bishops's Crest

Another Bishops’s Crest

We looked round the church which was built around the mosque in the 1400’s. There are many different coats of arms around the church, each representing a different Bishop of Córdoba and reflecting the long time spent converting the architecture to a form which the catholics here would be comfortable with.

Old Arabic Gilded Wooden Roof

Old Arabic Gilded Wooden Roof

There is a very well preserved roof from Arabic times.

Santaella Church...Arabic Flooring

Santaella Church…Arabic Flooring

And much other evidence, such as this tiling in 8 pointed stars, of the Moorish origins of the building.

Procession Figures

Procession Figures

Every Easter there is a week of processions, and these figures of Jesus, Saint Mary and other saints are carried round the streets for all to see.

For Processions

For Processions

This is the ceremonial coffin, carried by 16 men under the covers, which carries the figure of Jesus on the Easter processions. Apparently there is generally also a bottle of brandy or two, hidden beneath the draperies, to sustain the figure bearers.

Town Hall Santaella

Town Hall Santaella

Mathilde took us on a tour around Santaella.

Santaella

Terrace of Circle de Labradores

Next to the Town Hall is the Circulo de Labradores or ‘Working Man’s Club’, built by the landowners for their workers. In the event however it was used in the old days mainly by the land owners….the workers were too busy working to use it…

It is now a cafe and we went in for coffee. There is a terrace much decorated by ceramic pictures and poetry, supplied by a group of local artists and writers who used to meet here.

Church/Minaret at Santaella

Church/Minaret at Santaella

Terrace for los Labraderos

Terrace for los Labraderos

Coffee in Santaella

Ready for the Coffee

Mathilde and Peter in Santaella

Mathilde and Peter in Santaella

Garlic Factory

Garlic Factory

After Santaella, Mathilde took us to Montalbano de Córdoba. This is another small town, about 10 km from La Campiña. First stop was a quick look around a garlic processing plant, where we tasted black garlic…bulbs which have been heated enough to preserve them and produce a dark, crumbly texture. Delicious.

Pedro Ximenez Bodega

Pedro Ximenez Bodega

Next stop was the Bodegas del Pino in Montalban where they turn locally grown Pedro Ximenez grapes into a variety of delicious wines. They make a sweet dessert wine here which is particularly nice.

The picture above shows the old grape presses.

Tasting from the Vats

Tasting from the Vats

Yummy

Yummy

Mathilde

Mathilde

More Tasting

More Tasting

We had to try some more…it would have been rude not to.

Olive Oil Works

Olive Oil Works

We moved on to an olive oil processing plant to see what happened to the olives we had seen picked a few days before.

Olives

Olives

First the olives are tipped in to a big hopper.

Olives on the way in

Olives on the way in

Olives on the way to being washed and de-leafed

Olives on the way to being washed and de-leafed

The olives are conveyor-belted up, blown (to remove the leaves ) then washed.

Centrifuges

Centrifuges

After crushing, the paste is centrifuged to separate out the oil.

First Press

First Press

This is the end product; a lovely bubbling geyser of first press, milky, extra virgin olive oil.

Tasting the First Press

Tasting the First Press

Mathilde had bought some bread and we dunked it in the fresh oil and scoffed away. Absolutely delicious.

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Rambling about Europe with the Kray Twins (Colin and Penny).

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Posted in Autumn 2015, Santaella
2 comments on “The Olive Harvest
  1. john cross says:

    Fascinating and great pictures !!. We just back from Croatia and found ourselves helping out with the olive harvest on a site we were staying at . No tractors there so we handpicked the olives and enjoyed ourselves immensely. Our reward was a bottle of homemade pear schnapps which Susie thought tasted like paraffin . I thought it was ok . Keep up your blog . It brightens up a gloomy november day here .
    All good things to you both , susie and john

    • Lovely to hear from you again. We will shortly be joining you in sunny UK!….we are back a few weeks before Christmas. Have you any plans for next year yet?
      Best Wishes
      Peter, Nia and the Krays
      xxx

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Places Visited
Dordogne Guide
Our Guide to Bordeaux, the Médoc and the Dordogne

Our Dordogne Guide Book is now available. See motorhomefrance.com

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