The period from the middle of October until mid-November is when the olive harvest begins in Istria, Croatia’s premier olive oil producing region.
This is also the time of year when an annual festival celebrating the new olive oil season is held in Vodnjan, in the southern part of the Istrian peninsula. This year’s festival is the 11th edition of “New Olive Oil Days” (Dani mladog maslinovog ulja), being held from November 13 to 15, 2015.
Though olive oil has been produced in Istria since Roman times, it is only in the past 20 years that it has developed in a significant way, with the number of olive trees growing in the region’s rich red soil tripling during this time.
In recent years, Istrian extra virgin olive oils have been increasingly garnering attention and gaining recognition internationally for their high quality and distinctive fruitiness. At the 2015 New York International Olive Oil Competition (NYIOOC), eight extra virgin olive oils from Istria took home awards.
The city of Vodnjan has become a center for olive oil in Istria, and many quality local producers and oil mills are located here and in the surrounding area. It seems apt that the city is also the annual host of this festival which brings together olive oil producers from across the peninsula.
During this year’s edition of this three-day event, visitors can participate in free olive oil tastings, meet producers from across the region, and attend talks on topics related to olive oil production. Like the past two editions, local celebrity chef and chocolatier Robert Perić will be presenting demonstrations on how to cook with olive oil.
Visitors can also attend workshops on baking with olive oil, and a series of educational programs will share new developments on olive production in Istria, as well as practical advice on how to store olive oil, its health benefits, and uses. Special events and workshops for children, a city tour via a mini-tourist train, and nightly concerts will round off a varied program of events for all age groups.