Argentine Oils: From 'Plan B' Crop to Award Winners

In wine-soaked Argentina, EVOO is beginning to make its mark.

May. 8, 2017
By Kelsey Shanesy

Recent News

There’s a say­ing that’s touted in the wine-lov­ing regions of Argentina. If you don’t drink wine, then why did you come?” Increasingly, the local olive oil indus­try has been respond­ing with a new answer: For the EVOO!”

There’s been a con­certed effort in recent years to sup­port the pro­duc­tion and con­sump­tion of extra-vir­gin olive oil in the region, rang­ing from a gov­ern­ment-spon­sored mar­ket­ing cam­paign with its ban­ner phrase Mendoza Oliva Bien” to The Olive Road, a newly minted tourist attrac­tion where vis­i­tors can expe­ri­ence guided tours and tast­ings.
See Also:The Best Olive Oils from Argentina for 2017
These efforts have been pay­ing off on both a local and inter­na­tional level. For vis­i­tors, EVOO tast­ings and tourism make for a nice break from the oth­er­wise end­less con­sump­tion of Malbec. And the coun­try pro­duces some of world’s best olive oils: the brand Olivares La Reconquista won a Best in Class Award at the New York International Olive Oil Competition, and Trilogia won a Silver Award.

In Mendoza, whose pop­u­la­tion is largely com­prised of Italian and Spanish descen­dants, olives and olive oil have long had a place. Olive trees were planted along­side the vine­yards in accor­dance with Mediterranean tra­di­tion. This dou­ble plant­ing also allowed local farm­ers to hedge their bets. If it was a bad year for grapes, there was always plan B: the olive crop.

But with EVOO com­ing into its own in the region, some for­mer vine­yards have turned their focus to olives entirely, as was the case with the Maguay com­pany. We worked with both crops until 1980,” explained Florencia Giol, one of three broth­ers who run the Mendoza-based com­pany. Since then, Maguay has begun to pro­duce its own EVOO and offer their final prod­ucts to con­sumers and tourists.

María Lourdes Toujas, a food sci­en­tist, and con­sul­tant for olive oil com­pa­nies in Argentina, Chile and Uruguay, also noted that even the vine­yards focused on high-end wines are ven­tur­ing into pre­mium olive oil pro­duc­tion to round out their regional offer­ings.


It’s very impor­tant to sup­port the pri­mary pro­ducer,” Lourdes Toujas said. Without them, it’s not pos­si­ble to obtain oils of this qual­ity and quan­tity. Supporting this stage of the pro­duc­tion chain is fun­da­men­tal to be com­pet­i­tive in inter­na­tional mar­kets.”

Today, Mendoza is home to approx­i­mately 16,500 planted hectares and 25 mills. The vari­eties used in Mendoza for EVOO pro­duc­tion are mainly Acauco, an Argentine olive, as well as Arbequina. Frantoio, Coratina, Farga and Picual are also used, although to a lesser extent. Extra vir­gin olive oils cur­rently rep­re­sent 90 per­cent of total pro­duc­tion and enjoy a unique fla­vor pro­file thanks to the opti­mal grow­ing cli­mate.

As it con­tin­ues to strive toward the pro­duc­tion of pre­mium EVOO and catch the atten­tion of tourists, the olive oil indus­try and Mendoza Oliva Bien work to remind peo­ple of the health ben­e­fits of EVOO, a prod­uct already ingrained in the lives of its peo­ple. And for Mendocinos as well as tourists, buy­ing local brands is get­ting eas­ier by the day.

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