Africa / Middle East

Jerusalem Hosts 7th 'TerraOlivo' Competition

TerraOlivo celebrated its 7th edition with olive oils from 19 different countries. The big winner was Spain, followed by brands from Israel.

Jun. 13, 2016
By Alexis Kerner

Recent News

Jerusalem is per­haps one of the most idyl­lic places in the world to con­sider olive oil and its his­tory. In just one visit to the ancient city, a tourist can become cap­ti­vated by some of the most emblem­atic olive trees rooted in its soil.

Even the 12 vis­it­ing tasters at the Ter­raO­livo com­pe­ti­tion were in awe at the Gar­den of Olives in the Sanc­tu­ary Geth­se­mane. This is where Jesus was said to have prayed the night before he was cru­ci­fied. The word Geth­se­mane orig­i­nates from Hebrew or Ara­maic for olive press.

The inter­na­tional tasters came from 7 coun­tries (Italy, Peru, Greece, The United States, Spain, Por­tu­gal, and Turkey) to par­tic­i­pate in the 7th edi­tion of Ter­rao­livo and quickly got to know and work as a team with the 25 Israeli tasters.

Anto­nio Lauro, head of the juries, spoke to Olive Oil Times on the impor­tance of judg­ing. As panel mem­bers, we must never for­get two things: Firstly, mem­bers are noth­ing more than an instru­ment that mea­sures the char­ac­ter­is­tics of an olive oil. And sec­ondly, that behind each olive oil there is a pro­ducer that has worked very hard.

Some of those pro­duc­ers were present in the jury. Eran Galili, from Galili Olive Oil, said he is not only a pro­ducer: With Ehud Sori­ano (head of judges for the Israeli National Con­test) he also orga­nizes a con­test in Israel called Fam­ily Olive. It focuses on smaller fam­ily pro­duc­ers that sim­ply do not have the vol­ume to com­pete in larger com­pe­ti­tions. This past March, 50 oils were pre­sented.

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The garden of Gethsemane in Jerusalem

Ayala Noy Meir, also a pro­ducer demon­strated that olive oil is not just an ingre­di­ent; it is a medium to bring cul­tures together and con­nects us to our past and future. She is part of the Olive Oil With­out Bor­ders project that helps bring Pales­tini­ans and Israelis together. She shared a very mov­ing video on her project that was just recently pub­lished.

After get­ting to know one another, all of the tasters became very seri­ous as they slurped, dis­cussed and noted their marks. Around 2,800 blue tast­ing glasses were used to score the 627 sam­ples from 19 dif­fer­ent coun­tries.

By the late after­noon on June 8th, fol­low­ing three long days of tast­ing and many more of hard work to orga­nize the event, the much-antic­i­pated results were in. Spain was the grand win­ner with more than 130 awards fol­lowed by Israel, Italy and Greece.

Many Israeli pro­duc­ers attended the awards cer­e­mony to see if this year their olive oil had made the mark. Yaron Tirosh, also a panel mem­ber, was among them. His last name Tirosh, mean­ing fresh grape juice, demon­strates that his fam­ily has a clear his­tory of farm­ing. He does not have a large pro­duc­tion but man­ages to cul­ti­vate Barnea, Picual and Picholine olives.

Tirosh was pre­sented 6 awards, one being Israel Bou­tique Grand Cham­pion. When OOT asked him about his biggest chal­lenge this year, he responded that it had been a very good year with almost no issues. Unfor­tu­nately, he said next year would most likely be dif­fi­cult due to a hot sum­mer cou­pled by an off year for bien­nial pro­duc­tion.

Shmuel Levin accepted a Grand Prestige Gold award

Masik Kib­butz Magal was awarded 13 prizes. Maya Gut­man said they are a small kib­butz that pro­duces 8 dif­fer­ent olive oils as well as almonds. They make 6 mono­va­ri­etals and 2 blends. When asked how she liked to use her olive oil, she said she uses it for every­thing, even in her hair when it gets dry. She rec­om­mended using the Lec­cino for bak­ing, it is sweet and makes her cakes even bet­ter.

Itay Tup­per­berg and his three broth­ers are 4th-gen­er­a­tion olive oil pro­duc­ers. Both of his par­ents passed away when they were young but his father gave them sound advice before he left: He told his sons to plant olive trees. They did and now they are win­ning awards like Best Israeli Koroneiki and Best Israeli Souri. Itay hon­ors his par­ents with an image of his father on their bot­tles and of his mother on a skin cream that is avail­able at their farm store.

We asked Shmuel Levin, 83, an Israeli who has won many awards through­out the years for Meshek Levin, what wis­dom he had to offer. He said water is a big prob­lem and is too costly in Israel. He rec­om­mended that the Israeli gov­ern­ment begin to help the farm­ers because the cost of water was mak­ing it very dif­fi­cult for them to sub­sist.

It was clear speak­ing to many Israeli farm­ers that they were hav­ing prob­lems mak­ing ends meet, but they all agreed that open­ing their doors to both tourism and to local con­sumers is one way to have a more eco­nom­i­cally sound busi­ness, as well as trans­mit trans­parency.


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