St. Anthony’s EVOO (Gwen Ashley Walters, 2016)

NOTE: The following article is taken from Phoenix Mag, Issue: January 2016:


South of the Arizona State Prison Complex in Florence, smack dab in the middle of the desert with distant mountain vistas, is a serene Orthodox Greek monastery. Flagstone pathways meander around meticulously manicured grounds and storybook chapels.

St. Anthony’s Monastery, established in 1995, funds itself in part by selling olive oil its monks press and bottle on-site from an estate grove. The oil is exquisite, and a fine example of terroir in action: Olive trees flourish in the Sonoran desert. In the fall, monks handpick olives from Mission, Manzanilla and Sevillano olive trees, pressing them all together to produce a cold-pressed, extra virgin olive oil that is raw, robust and a clear expression of the harsh ground from where it comes.

Visitors are welcome at the monastery, but check the website for hours and dress code. Women are required to wear loose-fitting long skirts and long-sleeve shirts, headscarves and closed-toe shoes. The bookstore sells the olive oil in addition to whole olives, hot sauces, and jams and marmalades made from the property’s orchards. You don’t have to travel to Florence to buy a bottle of this exceptional, unfiltered olive oil. Find the oil, sold by volunteers, at select farmers’ markets including Old Town Scottsdale, Roadrunner and Singh Farms, as well as at The Bodega at FnB and Sphinx Date Co. Palm & Pantry. $9 for 250 ml; $24 for 750 ml.

St. Anthony’s Monastery



Queen Creek Olive Mill & St. Anthony’s Monastery (Arizona)

Queen Creek Olive Mill owners Perry and Brenda Rea left the chilly suburbs of Detroit in 1997 with their four children (and one on the way) for Phoenix, Arizona to pursue their dream of making Extra Virgin Olive Oil. The family dream quickly turned into a thriving family business. The couple, along with help from their five children, have put Arizona on the Extra Virgin Olive Oil map, supplying the Valley with local, high quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Operating for more than a decade, the Queen Creek Olive Mill is the home to more than 16 varieties of olives used for their extra virgin olive oil, the only olive oil that is produced in Arizona.

Queen Creek Olive Mill
Queen Creek Olive Mill

Queen Creek is home to Arizona’s first working olive farm and mill. At Queen Creek Olive Mill, a grove with thousands of trees is the source for gourmet extra virgin olive oils. Stuffed olives, tapenades, bath and body products, local vendor and artisan wares, and those oils line the aisles of the mill’s gourmet marketplace. Owners Perry and Brenda Rea cordially invite groups to tour, taste, and discover why their exceptionally high quality extra virgin olive oil (EVOO for short) is sought after by some of the area’s top restaurants and most discriminating palates.

St. Anthony's Extra Virgin Olive Oil & Apple Prickly Pear Sauce
St. Anthony’s Extra Virgin Olive Oil & Apple Prickly Pear Sauce

St. Anthony’s Monastery A vegetable garden, a small vineyard, citrus orchards, and an olive grove dot the landscape of St. Anthony’s Monastery. The monks not only keep the daily schedule of prayer, but among many physical tasks, care for 4,000 olive trees from which they make olive oil. In 2008, the Monastery purchased machinery for Olive Oil from Toscana Enologica Mori, Italy.

St. Anthony's Shipping Record (Olive Oil Machinery).
St. Anthony’s Shipping Record (Olive Oil Machinery).

The Queen Creek Olive Mill presses all its own oil at the mill, but the olives it sells stuffed or in its Tuscan blend are cured by Greek monks at the nearby St. Anthony’s Greek Orthodox Monastery in Florence. They use only salt brine for curing – no lye – and they cure them for 60 days in stainless steel vats, it’s an all-natural process.

QCOM Olives.
QCOM Olives.

PRESSING YOUR OWN OLIVES In addition to its own olive oil, Queen Creek Olive Mill produces olive oil for St. Anthony’s monastery, Agritopia and Arcosanti.

QCOM Olive Oil Machinery.
QCOM Olive Oil Machinery.

If you have an olive tree or two in your neighborhood you might have considered making your own olive oil. Queen Creek Olive Mill would be happy to press the olives for you—if you happen to have a quarter ton of olives, the output of at least five or six heavily laden olive trees, or 20 five-gallon pails.

QCOM Vats.
QCOM Vats.

It takes a lot of olives to make olive oil. On average, a quarter ton of olives will produce only 10 gallons of olive oil. The Queen Creek Olive Mill processes up to two tons of olives a day. 6555935905_c318f5acb1_o Today, the monks press and bottle their own olive oil, available in the bookstore. Cured Kalamata olives are also available in the bookstore.

St. Anthony’s Monastery & QCOM Tours As with many of the famous and popular monasteries in Greece, St. Anthony’s has also been bit by the “Monastery Tourism” bug.

$105: St. Anthony’s Monastery & Queen Creek Olive Mill (April 23, 2014) • Destination: Arizona, Florence, Queen Creek • Duration: 1 day • Departs: 04/23/2014 • Price: $105 Tour Includes: – Deluxe Motorcoach Transportation – PCT Tours Travel Coordinator – Driver/Coordinator Gratuities – St. Anthony’s Monastery Tour – Olive Creek Tour and Lunch “In the summer of 1995 six monks arrived in the southern Arizona desert to establish St. Anthony’s Monastery, carrying with them the sacred, millenial heritage of the Holy Mountain, Athos. The monastery is dedicated to St. Anthony the Great, the father of monasticism, the renowned 3rd century anchorite. Visitors must be properly attired to enter the Monastery grounds. In general, clothing should be modest and loose-fitting, and include the following: ◾Men must wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts ◾Women must wear long skirts, long-sleeved blouses, and scarves. (Please, no pants/slacks (unless worn under skirt), no tight-fitting clothing, no skirts with slits, hats, low-cut blouses, or sheer or small scarves) Due to the sanctity of this Holy place we kindly ask that you respect the quiet and solitude of the Monastery while on the grounds. After the Monastery we will meet at Queen Creek and the Olive Mill.  At the base of the San Tan Mountains in Queen Creek’s storied farm community the Queen Creek Olive Mill is Arizona’s only working olive farm & mill. While we produce a boutique hand-crafted extra virgin olive oil using 9 varieties of olives, our passion is creating a great experience for our guests. Enjoy lunch at the Olive Mill! Choose one of the following when booking: Sevi Sandwich (Chicken) Lucca (Turkey) Grappolo (Mozzarella & Tomatoes) Kalamata(Salami, Capicola and roasted veggies) Belice (Italian BLT) Florentine Salad Chicken Caesar Salad (Sandwiches served with gourmet potato chips and del Piero country)”

$65: Next stop will be Saint Anthony’s Greek Orthodox Monastery and Gardens.The brotherhood of monks who inhabit St. Anthony’s Greek Orthodox Monastery has created an oasis in the desert. Spread over 12 lush acres (all open to the self-guided tour,) the monastery takes in Palm-shaded walkways, Spanish fountains, orchards, and bougainvillea. But the real pleasures can be found at the monastery store – a trove of kalamata olives, (cured on site), powdery kourabiedes cookies and artisanal bread, as well as coffee-table tomes on Orthodox Christianity.