The phone rang while Ivan Pfeiffer was mowing the grass in the family olive grove.
On the other end was Ivana Bošković, director of the Cultural Center in Bol, the oldest town on the island of Brač.
Since word got out about our award-winning oil, I don’t even have time to look at all the messages. They arrive from Europe and America. From everywhere.
“Ivan, there are journalists from the German television station WDR,” Bošković said. “They would come to you.”
The latest episode of the popular international ARD travel show featured the southern Croatian region of Dalmatia, which stretches for 400 kilometers along the coast of the Adriatic Sea.See Also:Croatia’s Brač Olive Oil Receives PDO Status from European Commission
Editor and presenter Ramon Babazadeh traveled with the team along the coast and islands between the “dream” cities of Split and Dubrovnik.
There are hundreds of islands, of which they first visited Vis and then Brač, the largest Croatian island.
Bošković, who was the team’s guide, offered various recommendations on Brač, including Pustinja Blaca, where hermit priests lived for four centuries in a monastery carved into steep rocks until the death of its last director, Nikola Miličević, in 1963.
They also visited Vidova Gora, which, at 780 meters, is the highest peak of the Adriatic archipelago. It offers a phenomenal view of the surrounding islands. On a clear day, seeing Italy from the summit is even possible.
Pučišća is a stonemason center with the only professional school in Croatia (founded in 1906) near a famous quarry.
The island gained world fame for its white Brač stone. Many world-famous buildings were built from it, such as the Reichstag in Berlin, the Austrian Parliament Building in Vienna and the White House in Washington, D.C.
Finally, two kilometers from the already mentioned Bol, where the German journalists arrived, is the Zlatni Rat beach, also called Paradise Beach, because it is one of the most beautiful, if not the most beautiful, pebble beach on the Adriatic.
Despite these iconic landmarks, the German television team first chose the olive grove of Pfeiffer and his father-in-law Nikola Boldović to witness its award-winning olive oil.
Located between the town of Bol and Rajska Beach, Pfeiffer is the producer behind MI Olive, which earned a Gold Award for its indigenous Levantinka monovarietal at the 2023 NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition.
There is also an unusual story about the creators of this success, Pfeiffer and his late wife, Magdalena.
Pfeiffer, who came to Brač 20 years ago from the continental Croatian plain of Slavonia, fell in love with the island, olive trees and Magdalena, the beautiful daughter of Boldović.
Unfortunately, fate intervened. Magdalena fell seriously ill and, unfortunately, died in October 2022. Inconsolable Pfeiffer, in the name of eternal love, dedicated his NYIOOC award to Magdalena upon receiving news of the award on April 25th.
“The award and the article further increased the interest of [Babazadeh] and his team,” Bošković told Olive Oil Times.
At the same moment that she told Babazadeh about the article, they visited the olive grove, where Pfeiffer and his father-in-law warmly welcomed them.
As a welcome, they were offered Orahovac, a traditional liqueur made from green walnuts produced by Pfeiffer’s mother-in-law, Mirjana.
“Ooo, mama mia,” Babazadeh responded with satisfaction. They all toasted together once more. Then they tasted the award-winning oil: “Oh, how nice. Harmonious. Fruity,” he said with satisfaction and, together with Pfeiffer, continued to dip the homemade bread in the award-winning oil.
Then Pfeiffer revealed the secrets of successful olive pruning and cultivation in front of the cameras. No rain is best during flowering because it can wash the pollen off the flowers and harm fertilization. When the temperatures are high and dry in the summer, it is necessary to water. His groves have a drip irrigation system.
He told the German television channel the same story he previously told Olive Oil Times about how he came to the island, got a job in tourism, and fell in love with the Dalmatian people, the olive trees and Magdalena.
Together, they forged plans for the future, improved the cultivation and processing of olives, preservation and branding of oil. The first two letters MI Olive are the initials of their names, Magdalena and Ivan. Next to the olive grove is a house with a tasting room and a shop selling olive oil.
“Since word got out about our award-winning oil, I don’t even have time to look at all the messages,” Pfeiffer said. “They arrive from Europe and America. From everywhere.” Numerous inquiries also come to the editorial office of Olive Oil Times.
“I can tell you that Olive Oil Times had more than 6,000 visitors from Germany in just a few minutes that the show was on the air, and we received many e‑mails asking where to buy the oil,” an Olive Oil Times spokesperson said.
The show, which premiered on the German public television WDR on July 23, achieved a record viewership – 91,931 views. On YourTube, the video has received 138,000 views.
“I dedicated the award to my beloved wife Magdalena, who is most responsible for our success,” Pfeiffer repeated in the show.
Unfortunately, his beloved Magdalena did not experience the success of the family brand MI Olive, which they created together.
After a brief illness, she died suddenly in a hospital in Zagreb, the capital of Croatia, on October 24, just when the harvest in the family olive grove was completed, and the fruits were processed the same day at the Arnerić Oil Company in the town of Supetar.
Before leaving for treatment in Zagreb, Magdalena told her family not to worry about her, to devote themselves to the harvest and ensure the olives were processed so that the oil was top quality, Pfeiffer recalled.
The harvest lasted four days. In addition to family members, Pfeiffer’s friends also helped and manually harvested 7.5 tons of fruit from 260 olive trees, from which 1,200 liters of extra virgin olive oil were obtained.
“In those days, we expected the return of Magdalena to celebrate a successful season together,” Pfeiffer said.
On the day he had decided to visit her, the worst possible news arrived from the hospital in Zagreb that Magdalena had passed away. After the surgery, she suffered a pulmonary embolism, which was fatal.
“Awful, awful, don’t ask me how I felt. I would prefer to have died together with her,” Pfeiffer said.
However, he knows that life must go on and finds salvation and comfort in work. If Magdalena were alive in the olive grove, they would have already built a traditional house with a tasting room and developed oleotourism.
Now, after the tragic event, all that has stopped. The shock is too great, but all those who know Pfeiffer believe that he and his inlaws will persevere. Magdalena’s brother, Stipe Boldović, also helps him with this. “He really supports me in all the work in the olive grove,” Pfeiffer said.
Boldović works from morning to night. From 6 a.m. to 2 p.m., as the head of the Bonaca restaurant in the Bluesun Holiday Village in Bol. And from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the tasting room and shop in the olive grove.
Pfeiffer repeated to the ARD travel show what he previously told Olive Oil Times and said the quantity of oil he produces would be determined by nature.
Despite the tragedy, he continues to live and work as if Magdalena is still physically with him, although he misses her immensely.
But he carries her in his soul; he dedicated the award won at this year’s NYIOOC to her. Next year, Pfeiffer said he will likely produce an oil that will bear Magdalena’s name.
He hopes to enter this oil to the NYIOOC and said winning would be his greatest satisfaction and confirmation that love lives forever.