Carlos Falcó y Fernandéz de Córdova, an innovative vintner and olive oil producer, has died at the age of 83 due to complications caused by COVID-19.
Born in Seville in 1937, the fifth Marqués de Griñón had an aristocratic upbringing and spent his childhood playing with Juan Carlos I, the future king of Spain. However, those who knew him well said he was born to be an entrepreneur.
Though he grew up in a renowned Spanish wine region, Falcó first became interested in winemaking while studying agricultural engineering at the University of California, Davis in 1960.
After completing his studies, Falcó returned to Spain and settled near Toledo. Once back on the family estate, he began planting foreign grape varieties, a practice that had been previously banned in Spain. In spite of this, his first vintage was well received in 1983.
Falcó also revolutionized his family’s olive oil production practices. While the estate had been producing oil for centuries, Falcó was dissatisfied with its low quality.
In 1989, he traveled to Tuscany and enlisted the help of Marco Mugelli, an internationally recognized agricultural scientist, engineer and olive oil expert, to help improve his estate’s production practices.
The trip paid off and in 2002, Falcó produced an extra virgin olive oil that, caused a stir at the gourmet food convention, Madrid Fusion. According to his daughter, Xandra Falcó Girod, this began a trend of high-quality olive oil production in Spain.
In the second half of his life, Falcó worked hard to promote olive oil as a healthy and artisanal product. While promoting his 2013 book, Oleum, he laid out a vision for the future of olive oil.
“[It must be] supported by a technological, qualitative, dietary and communication revolution that increases its attractiveness, that definitively leaves behind its current status as a raw material with little commercial credibility and occupies the leading role it deserves in a new culture that highlights its status as a star of the Mediterranean diet,” he said.