Award-Winning Producers in Central Italy Prepare for Harvest

Sustainable farming, state-of-the-art milling, and synergies between committed farmers are key factors behind the success of the producers from central Italy
From left to right: Gaetano, Elia, Marco and Maurizio Agostini .
Sep. 23, 2021
Ylenia Granitto

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Part of our con­tin­u­ing spe­cial cov­er­age of the 2021 NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition.


Producers from cen­tral Italy made a sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tion to the suc­cess of their coun­try at the 2021 NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition.

Ideal weather con­di­tions allowed many of them to obtain large vol­umes of high-qual­ity extra vir­gin olive oil, suc­cess­fully over­com­ing the chal­lenges posed by the Covid-19 pan­demic.

Inspired by the awards that we have earned, once again this year, we will do our best to achieve the high­est qual­ity.- Elia Agostini, pro­ducer, Frantoio Agostini

This was the case of Lazio, whose fer­tile ter­ri­tory, char­ac­ter­ized by a large stretch of coast and hills sur­round­ing vol­canic lakes, is home to sev­eral award-win­ning farm­ers.

In the province of Viterbo, Silvio Marsan and his fam­ily pro­duce the organic extra vir­gin olive oil, San Bartolomeo.

See Also: Northern Italian Producers Share Secrets of Success at World Olive Oil Competition

Originally, the olive trees were intended to pro­vide shade to our free-range chick­ens and turkeys,” said Marsan, who is well known for breed­ing free-range poul­try.

Since then, the asso­ci­a­tion between ani­mals and plants has become so fruit­ful that we decided to add some plots, and we are now plan­ning to devote over 200 hectares to olive farm­ing,” he added.

Currently, about 60 hectares of groves are in full pro­duc­tion. Canino, Frantoio and Leccino are used in a blend that earned San Bartolomeo a Gold Award at the world com­pe­ti­tion.

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Photo: San Bartolomeo

Our lat­est-gen­er­a­tion oil mill allows us to achieve high lev­els of qual­ity,” Marsan said. Yet, I believe that a strong point is the fact that the facil­ity is close to the orchard. We are able to crush the fruits imme­di­ately, which are not altered by stor­age.”

The fam­ily com­pany was founded in the 1990s nearby Lake Bolsena, in a hilly area of high Tuscia. For the past 30 years, the Marsan fam­ily has bred Marans chicken, leav­ing them free to roam in the orchard.

As their eggs gar­nered the atten­tion of chefs and con­sumers, the fam­ily increased its olive oil pro­duc­tion, har­ness­ing the ben­e­fits of the agro­forestry sys­tem that com­bines ani­mal rear­ing and olive farm­ing.

We feed them grass, sprouts, insects, small worms, sun and clean air,” Marsan said, stress­ing the impor­tance of sus­tain­able and healthy live­stock pro­duc­tion.

The floor where the poul­try rest at night is made up of straw and manure,” he added. From this, we obtain a com­post called pol­lina’ which is col­lected along with agri­cul­tural by-prod­ucts such as pomace, and is used to pro­duce bio­gas through anaer­o­bic diges­tion.”

Olive pits removed dur­ing the milling process are used to heat the com­pany farm­houses and com­busted to obtain char­coal that is added to the chick­ens’ feed to reg­u­late their intesti­nal func­tions.

All this allows us to pro­duce elec­tric­ity and heat for our com­pany in a sus­tain­able way, reusing all the waste prod­ucts,” Marsan said. From this process, we also obtain diges­tate that we use as fer­til­izer for crops.”

Several NYIOOC win­ners also came from neigh­bor­ing Umbria. In Foligno, in the province of Perugia, Marco Viola earned a Gold Award with his Colleruita Umbria PDO.

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Marco Viola

The blend comes from the fruits of almost 23,000 trees scat­tered over 60 hectares of hilly land nes­tled in the olive tree belt between Assisi and Spoleto, the first Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems site in Italy and now a can­di­date to become a UNESCO World Heritage site.

We have been a fam­ily of pro­duc­ers for over 150 years,” Viola told Olive Oil Times. In 2006, I took the reins of my grand­fa­ther’s com­pany, which has included an olive press since 1917.”

This legacy was picked up by Viola, who today uses the lat­est tech­nol­ogy to obtain high-qual­ity extra vir­gin olive oils.

Our mill, exclu­sively devoted to our fruits, fea­tures heat exchang­ers, a state-of-the-art com­put­er­ized man­age­ment of all the oper­a­tions and other arrange­ments allows us to shorten the time of the pro­duc­tion process,” he said.

Moraiolo, Frantoio and Leccino trees are located on cal­care­ous, stony slopes. They enjoy excel­lent sun expo­sure and breezes that ensure the proper humid­ity, mak­ing this the ideal envi­ron­ment for their healthy devel­op­ment. Legumes and cere­als, partly used for flour pro­duc­tion, are grown along­side the olive groves.

See Also: The Best Olive Oils From Italy

We also rely on some part­ner sup­pli­ers, who our agron­o­mists advise,” Viola said, spec­i­fy­ing that they share the same entre­pre­neur­ial vision and code of ethics.

We are aware of our social respon­si­bil­ity, pur­su­ing the safety of employ­ees, the guar­an­tee of prod­uct qual­ity and respect for the envi­ron­ment,” he added.

Starting from the organic man­age­ment of the olive grove, Viola’s work is based on sus­tain­abil­ity.

We do not use any pes­ti­cide,” he said. In the field, we rely on tech­nol­ogy, namely weather sta­tions equipped with sen­sors for mon­i­tor­ing cli­mate and phy­topatho­log­i­cal vari­ables.”

This allows pre­cise and timely man­age­ment of the olive grove and helps pre­vent pest infes­ta­tions, such as the olive fruit fly.

The last har­vest was one of the best,” Viola said. It was excel­lent from a qual­i­ta­tive point of view, and, except for a very low yield, we could count on a large amount of fruits.”

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Viola

We are get­ting ready for a new sea­son, where we still focus on pur­su­ing the high­est level of qual­ity with the utmost respect for our ter­ri­tory,” he added.

In the Marche region, just north­east of Umbria, Elia, Marco, Gaetano and Maurizio Agostini are the pro­duc­ers behind the award-win­ning Sublimis and Hurticinum.

Their fam­ily com­pany, founded in 1945 right after World War II, has the lat­est gen­er­a­tion mill at its heart. They crush the fruits of sev­eral vari­eties, includ­ing Ascolana Tenera, Raggia, Frantoio, Leccino and Carboncella.

To diver­sify and ensure con­stant pro­duc­tion, we have decided to spread out the loca­tions of our olive groves,” Elia Agostini told Olive Oil Times. Indeed, the dif­fer­ent ter­ri­to­ries respond in dif­fer­ent man­ners to weather, espe­cially given the increas­ing occur­rence of extreme events as a con­se­quence of cli­mate change.”

Hence the deci­sion to work on two fronts: an olive grove of 2,500 trees on the hills of Ortezzano, halfway between the sea and the moun­tain, and an olive grove of 12,000 trees on the coast, in Ancona, man­aged in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Frantoio del Carmine, for a total of 34 hectares.

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Frantoio Agostini

We believe that syn­er­gies between com­pa­nies can play an impor­tant role in the high-qual­ity sec­tor,” Agostini said. They make it pos­si­ble to diver­sify the pro­duc­tion while main­tain­ing the ter­ri­to­r­ial authen­tic­ity.”

To this end, the Agostini mill is also sup­plied by a group of trust­wor­thy local grow­ers who share their qual­ity views.

They are sup­ported by our agron­o­mists,” he said. We are very grate­ful to these farm­ers, for they have com­mit­ted them­selves, for 15 years now, to keep the high­est prod­uct stan­dards to pro­vide us with their best fruits.”

At the right time, the olives are picked and crushed within six hours of har­vest­ing in a two-phase mill.

What really dri­ves us in our pro­duc­tion choices is sus­tain­abil­ity,” Agostini said. Therefore, we have cho­sen to reduce water use apply­ing this extrac­tion tech­nol­ogy. Also, we reuse all the waste prod­ucts – from leaves used as a fer­til­izer to pits that become pel­lets, which we sell and use for heat­ing.”

The entire pro­duc­tion cycle is sup­plied with clean energy, evi­denced by a pho­to­voltaic plant located on the roof of the fac­tory.

We are so close to start­ing the new sea­son,” Agostini said. Now, we are keep­ing an eye on the plants of Ascolana, an early vari­ety that with hot tem­per­a­ture can ripen rapidly. We have an excep­tional har­vest behind us.”

At first, the great heat gave us con­cern for the bal­ance of bit­ter­ness and pun­gency in our extra vir­gin olive oils, but in the end, we man­aged to obtain good prod­ucts, which is our goal every year,” he added. Inspired by the awards that we have earned, once again this year, we will do our best to achieve the high­est qual­ity.”


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