The Gambini and Mensik families shared a vision—to create an olive orchard based on a public tree-adoption system similar to the sharecropping systems in Italy, where families could harvest olives and olive oils whenever their trees bore fruit. Breaking ground on 18 acres in the Texas Hill Country—home to numerous vineyards and organic farms—the clans' USDA-compliant organic farming methods soon produced yields that would claim multiple awards, including a gold medal from The Los Angeles International Extra Virgin Olive Oil Competition.
Today, the growers at Texas Hill Country Olive Company tend five kinds of olive trees, which bear harvests that are handpicked, cold-processed, and bottled within 24 hours as artisanal extra virgin olive oils. The farmers also produce traditional and fruit-infused balsamic vinegars on the territory. The grounds encompass a 6,000-square-foot tasting room and an indoor demo kitchen that hosts events such as cooking classes amid eco-friendly touches such as nontoxic paints and teak furniture. An outdoor demo kitchen and an indoor café are also on their way, where small-plate fare made from ingredients sourced from other Hill Country farms will take center stage. Texas Hill Country’s adopt an olive tree program continues to thrive, as each bottle of oil produced by an adopted tree comes with a personalized label and regular reports about the tree's accomplishments at tree school.