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Cortopassi plans large olive oil plant southeast of Lodi

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Posted: Tuesday, November 29, 2005 10:00 pm

Lifelong Stockton-Lodi resident Dino Cortopassi makes olive oil, but he limits its distribution to gifts for family and friends.

But now he wants to produce 4,000 gallons of olive oil a day over a 40-day period each fall. His ranch is northwest of Live Oak Road and Highway 88, southeast of Lodi.

Dino Cortopassi

The expanded undertaking is a big enough project that it's subject to approval by the San Joaquin County Planning Commission, which will review Cortopassi's use permit application Thursday.

Dino Cortopassi was unavailable for comment Monday and Tuesday.

During the harvest season, from about Oct. 20 through Dec. 15, Cortopassi Brothers plans two 12-hour shifts, seven days a week. Fifteen days are factored in as "rain days," according to a county planning report.

"It may be a good idea because it could give more job opportunities," said Roxana Hernandez, who has lived in an apartment across Live Oak Road from the proposed olive oil plant.

The site of the 14,000-square-foot processing plant doesn't appear to be near anyone. Plans call for the plant to be built on a 226-acre parcel filled with grapevines and a long walk between homes.

Hernandez said that while the plant could generate jobs, it could be noisy as well.

Another neighbor, Joyce Boda, a 34-year area resident, said she supports Cortopassi's venture 100 percent.

County planners report receiving one letter opposing the project. The letter raised issues about waste removal from the plant.

In a written response, Cortopassi said that all waste products, primarily olive pulp, would be removed from the olive plant in trucks and used as mulch at vineyards, according to the report.

And, no hazardous materials would be used, he told the county.

Dino Cortopassi is the son of Italian immigrants. He grew up on his parents' first family farm on Eight Mile Road and later lived in east Stockton.

He attended UC Davis for two years before becoming a grain buyer and trader for the Pillsbury Co. In 1978, Dino Cortopassi and local vintner John Kautz organized a group of farmers to buy Stanislaus Food Products, which manufactures tomato-based products for restaurants throughout North America.

Eight years later, Cortopassi bought Stanislaus Food Products outright. He now owns half the firm.

He specializes in extra virgin olive oil and planted 240 acres of olives this year. Additionally, his two businesses, San Tomo Group and Lodi Farming Co., has about 1,500 acres of cherries, apples, walnuts and grapes.

Thursday's San Joaquin County Planning Commission meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. at the Public Health/Planning Auditorium, 1601 E. Hazelton Ave., Stockton.

Contact reporter Ross Farrow at rossf@lodinews.com.

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