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Farmer finds liquid gold in Contra Costa County

Roots in agriculture and a strong entrepreneurial spirit help a family business thrive.


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Walking around his olive orchard, Sean McCauley admits he's living his dream.

You see, Sean's parents were almonds growers, so he always knew he'd somehow make a living off the land. He skipped college and began looking around Brentwood in eastern Contra Costa County, trying to figure out what to do.

He ended up buying 2,100 acres of young olive trees, propagating them from European trees. And today, during harvest season, dozens of family members, friends and workers are all picking olives and doing it the old-fashioned way—by hand.

The first rule the group learns is the most important one: Don't let the olives fall on the ground!

"Just like an apple, if you drop an apple, it bruises. That raises the acidity of the oil, so the less bruising the better," said Sean. "You want to get to the press the same day or the next day. That's important."

Although the McCauleys were providing olive oil for many of the local fruit stands, restaurants and stores, residents still clamored for a country store where they could purchase the oil and other locally grown products. So in the summer of 2009, the family opened McCauley Brothers Olive Groves on the property where Sean grew up.

The store not only offers a wide variety of flavored olive oils, balsamic vinegar,

local nuts, honey, gift baskets and many other items, but they also have a seasonal fruit stand that carries fruits and vegetables from nearby farms.

This store has allowed the entire family to be a part of the business, and they all take great pride in making it a success. From tending the orchards to harvesting to bottling and running the store, it has been a wonderful experience for the McCauley family—one they'd like to bottle up for future families to enjoy.

For more information about McCauley Brothers Olive Oil, visit mccauleyolivegroves.com.


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