olive oil plantation
Suryalila Yoga Retreat Centre, located in the heart of olive country: Andalusia, Spain, contains an olive grove with over 350 ancient olive trees.
We proudly serve our own home-grown organic cured olives and our own buttery gold Suryalila organic olive oil to our guests. On the beautiful grounds, you can still see several massive granite olive crushing stones, giant ceramic olive oil urns (now sporting petunias!) and a line of colourful carts which were all part of the original olive farm.
The History of La Fabrica
Suryalila was previously called ‘La Fabrica’ and was a working olive and dairy farm a hundred years ago. It had several large barns for cattle and also housed an olive mill. All the olive oil was produced on site. The large farm provided work for many employees.
When Spain became part of the European Union, new legislation came into effect which required the upgrading of the mill and the machinery used. At this point the family who owned the property were unable to afford the upgrades and therefore decided to sell the property. They sold it to a Spanish couple who had the idea of creating an exclusive retirement home.
The man who bought it was a building contractor and spent 6 years completely renovating the property. Unfortunately his plans never came to pass and he never fully completed the project. He and his wife wanted to move back to Barcelona and sell the property, but unfortunately this came at a time when the property market in Spain was collapsing.
La Fabrica Becomes Suryalila
The property had been on the market for over a year when we found it. We were amazed at how perfectly the property would fit our needs with just a few minor changes. We had to finish the renovation and outfit the property to meet the legal requirements for a guest house. This was no small task.
We also had to furnish eight houses and a huge dining room. Vidya purchased and shipped three containers worth of furniture and decorations from Bali, and Suryalila was born!
Join Us for Olive Season!
Every September and October is olive season in Andalucia, Spain. First we harvest from a few select trees around the property which are best for eating olives. (Traditionally, there are three varieties – cracked green, medium cured, and sun dried black.) Then, when the olive trees are at peak ripeness, the local villagers show up and harvest our olives for olive oil, as they have been doing for generations.
The harvesting is done by surrounding each tree with a drop cloth and banging on the tree branches until the olives fall down. The olives are then gathered up and taken to the local olive mill to be pressed, and hundreds of litres of gorgeous, sun-gold organic olive oil are delivered back to us to use in our kitchen the rest of the year. How lucky we are!
So if you are planning a visit to Suryalila in the fall, don’t miss the olive harvest!
Suryalila Organic Olive Oil – Liquid Gold!
We harvest our olives in late October. We usually enlist a few locals to help us with this, as it is quite skilled labour. The trees must be pruned every year, which is hard work with so many trees and involves skilful use of a chainsaw. Harvesting the olives involves shaking the trees onto a tarpaulin and also hand-picking, the way it has been done for thousands of years.
After shaking the olives off the trees, we need to clean them and then either soak them in brine or take them to Zahara de la Sierra where we get them milled. In harvesting season when you go to the olive mill, you need to wait in line. You are given a number, like in a busy office, and have to wait for your number to be called. They will call you half an hour before your turn and in harvest season the mill works 24 hours, so you might be called up in the middle of the night.
After your olives are milled with big grindstones you are given a number of huge containers of olive oil. These containers contain ample olive oil to last our kitchen the whole year and also allow us to sell some to guests in our shop, with our own label designed by Rebecca, the artist and founder of Yoga Will Save the World. Suryalila olive oil is nutty and sweet and bitter at the same time and a deep gold colour with a greenish hue.
We are experimenting with different kinds of marinade to flavour the olives for eating. It’s possible to add chilli and garlic and peppers and different herbs, and we are still looking for that perfect recipe.