Friends and family, who have known each other for decades, make up the backbone of Apollo Olive Oil. It is exceedingly fortunate that we have complementary skills, for no one person could master all the facets of the business, from grove to customer. And it is equally fortunate that so many friends and family members lean in to help: the harvest season is so intense that loving support is an absolute necessity.
Gianni Stefanini runs the mill and overviews all aspects of operations. Having worked intensively with Marco Mugelli both in Italy and here, he is one of the most progressively trained millers in America. Born in Mantova, he emigrated here in the mid 1980’s and worked in the wine industry, acquiring skills which are highly adaptable to the making of olive oil.
Steven Dambeck is our well-traveled founder. After traveling extensively around the Mediterranean, he developed a passion for olives and olive oil and trained as a miller in Provence. He has been farming organically in the Sierra Foothills since the late 1970’s and likes to tell and to hear everything about olive varieties, agricultural practices, pressing and storing and enjoying olive oil.
Behind the scenes everywhere, is Steve McCulley. Over a twenty-five year career as a small business consultant, he has helped people build successful businesses. After helping from the outside for a couple of years, he joined Apollo as a partner: making it the first business he is building from the inside. From merely consulting, he has become the mainstay of our back office – webmaster, accountant, shipper, and chief bottle washer.
Diana Stefanini, Gianni’s wife, was once upon a time a highly awarded wine-maker (she and Gianni fell in love in the wine cellar). Now she offers general support, from bringing lunch and taking notes to infusing the company with years of management experience.
Working together over the last decade, one lesson has deeply imprinted itself on all of us: that while the ancient olive, and all of its products, is the perfect foundation for a community, it is really the people – and the way they work together – that finally determines the quality and character of that community.
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