Fruitful Harvest Yields Record Year for Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Producers from the two small Balkan countries enjoyed fruitful harvests and earned a record number of awards at the World Competition.
Photo: Matej Drnovšček
Jun. 24, 2021
Jasmina Nevada

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

Producers from across the Balkan Peninsula enjoyed a record year at the 2021 NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition.

While the most awards went to Croatian pro­duc­ers, entrants from Slovenia and Bosnia and Herzegovina also earned a record-high num­ber of awards at the world’s most pres­ti­gious olive oil qual­ity com­pe­ti­tion.

I feel grate­ful. This award means we are pro­duc­ing olive oil the right way. It’s repay­ment for all our hard work.- Matej Drnovšček, owner, Kmetija Drnovšček Estate

Seven Slovenian pro­duc­ers earned Gold Awards at the com­pe­ti­tion after the small cen­tral European coun­try enjoyed a near-record har­vest.


According to International Olive Council data, Slovenia pro­duced 800 tons of olive oil in the 2020/21 crop year, the sec­ond-high­est total on record and about 42 per­cent above the rolling five-year aver­age. Slovenian olive oil pro­duc­tion is almost exclu­sively lim­ited to the Istrian penin­sula and Goriška.

Among the win­ners at this year’s edi­tion of the con­test was Villa Eva. Situated between the Julian Alps and the Adriatic Sea, the fam­ily estate earned its Gold Award for an organic medium Bianchera.

See Also:The Best Olive Oils from Slovenia

The roots of Villa Eva orig­i­nate with three women who ran the farm and accom­pa­ny­ing shop, which the fam­i­ly’s great grand­mother founded, since 1920. Since then, the com­pany has shifted its focus to organic olive oil pro­duc­tion and rents out vil­las on the prop­erty to tourists.


Photo: Timon Brataševec

The groves are located in the pic­turesque land­scape of Goriška, which sits right on the hilly bor­der with Italy and boasts an ideal micro-cli­mate for olive cul­ti­va­tion.

The family’s fore­bear­ers estab­lished that the Istrska and Bjelica vari­eties thrived well in the area. The Bjelica vari­ety is dis­tin­guished by its rich aroma, whereas the Istrska olive is spicy and a lit­tle bit­ter. The family’s focus is on qual­ity as opposed to quan­tity, with an empha­sis on indige­nous olive vari­eties. The olive groves are dom­i­nated by Drobnica, Črnica and Istrska Bjelica trees.

We feel immensely happy and proud to be noticed at such an impor­tant com­pe­ti­tion,” Timon Brataševec, Villa Eva’s co-owner, told Olive Oil Times. For our entire fam­ily and employ­ees, this is a great recog­ni­tion and proof that we are work­ing in the right direc­tion. Winning the NYIOOC gives us new strength and energy for the future.”

We are con­vinced that this recog­ni­tion will open new sales oppor­tu­ni­ties for us in the world as well,” he added. We have been apply­ing for com­pe­ti­tions for many years and now we are achiev­ing excep­tion­ally good results.”

Villa Eva had a cat­a­strophic har­vest in 2019 due to inclement weather, which inhib­ited flow­er­ing and ripen­ing, and resulted in a low yield. Luckily, nature offered excel­lent results last year, even though there was wide­spread fear of the olive fruit fly.

It may be a lit­tle early to pre­dict this year’s har­vest as the olives are in bloom until mid-June, but Brataševec is hop­ing for another good year.

After flow­er­ing, it will be shown a lit­tle more clearly what the har­vest will be like, if the weather con­di­tions con­tinue to be favor­able and not affected by the olive fly, which is our nat­ural enemy,” Brataševec said.

Located not far from the groves of Villa Eva, also in Goriška, the pro­duc­ers behind the Kmetija Drnovšček Estate also cel­e­brated a hard-earned win at the NYIOOC.


Harvesting olives on the Kmetija Drnovšček Estate. Photo: Matej Drnovšček

The com­pany took home a Gold Award for its robust organic Bjelica after pro­duc­ing 1,800 liters of organic extra vir­gin olive oil in 2020.

I feel grate­ful. This award means we are pro­duc­ing olive oil the right way,” owner Matej Drnovšček told Olive Oil Times. It’s repay­ment for all our hard work.”

Drnovšček started pro­duc­ing olive oil back in 2000, with a spe­cific focus on the auc­tocto­nous Črnica and Drobnica vari­eties, though he has planted four oth­ers as well. Like many other pro­duc­ers in the region, he cited ward­ing off the olive fruit fly as the biggest chal­lenge in what was oth­er­wise a very fruit­ful har­vest.

Our main chal­lenge was man­ag­ing the fruit fly by doing proper tree prun­ing, mon­i­tor­ing and pro­tect­ing the olives organ­i­cally,” Drnovšček said.

Situated about 60 kilo­me­ters south of Goriška, in the upper cor­ner of the Istrian penin­sula, the pro­duc­ers behind Aegida cel­e­brated their first-ever win at the World Competition.

This award means a lot to us, we are very glad,” co-owner Andrej Kaluza told Olive Oil Times. Producing high-qual­ity oil is a chal­lenge, but we love our trees and this helps a lot.”

Kaluza and his wife founded the olive grove in 2013, restor­ing a grove that had been aban­doned for more than 50 years, and have gone on to cul­ti­vate 500 trees of the Istrska Bjelica, Leccino and Leccio del Corno vari­eties. The pro­duc­ers earned their Gold Award for a mono­va­ri­etal Leccio del Corno.

Not far from the groves of Aegida, the pro­duc­ers behind Morgan Cuvee cel­e­brated win­ning their fifth Gold Award at the NYIOOC.


The Morgan family harvesting olives on their farm in 2018. OOT Archive

We feel very excited and happy, and most of all proud of our olive oil and our fam­ily for doing great work,” co-own­ers Franc and Jenny Morgan told Olive Oil Times. It will def­i­nitely have a pos­i­tive impact on our brand and also on Slovenian olive oil as Slovenia is known for good olive oil world­wide.”

Along with hard work, the Morgans also attrib­uted their suc­cess to the geog­ra­phy of Slovenia’s Istrian penin­sula.

Probably the main rea­son [our oils stand­out] is because of our geo­graph­i­cal posi­tion, which influ­ences the oil taste since our trees are posi­tioned quite high above sea level (230 meters) and on the sunny side of local hills,” they said. The taste is unique in the sense of bit­ter­ness, fresh­ness and spici­ness.”

Along with many other Slovenian pro­duc­ers, the Morgans enjoyed a boun­ti­ful har­vest, pro­duc­ing roughly 3,000 liters of olive oil, a 15-per­cent increase com­pared with the pre­vi­ous year.

Like every pro­ducer, we also depend on the weather,” they said. Last year, the weather was quite sta­ble, and we man­aged to obtain the best from our trees.”

Also, the olive fly was not so aggres­sive and con­se­quently, the olives matured in their nor­mal way, which led us to excel­lent olive oil qual­ity,” the pair added.

Situated just east of Dalmatia, in the rolling hills of Herzegovina, two pro­duc­ers from Bosnia and Herzegovina also cel­e­brated their suc­cess at the 2021 NYIOOC.

See Also:The Best Olive Oils from Bosnia and Herzegovina

The com­bined Gold and Silver Awards won by the two pro­duc­ers was the high­est total yet from the land­locked repub­lic.

For the fourth con­sec­u­tive year, the Škegro Family Winery earned a Gold Award for its Krš brand, a medium blend of hand­picked Oblica, Pendolino, Casaliva, Lastovka, Levantinka, Leccino and Cipressino olives.


Barisa Škegro and family during the harvest

The fam­ily, which is already renowned for its wines, has 300 olive oil trees dot­ting the estate in Ljubuški, just east of the Croatian bor­der.

During the har­vest sea­son, the entire fam­ily takes part in the olive oil pro­duc­tion process from start to fin­ish. Barisa Škegro said that cul­ti­va­tion is chal­leng­ing as the olive groves are located on hills, but added the family’s hard­work is rewarded with qual­ity olive oil.

The Škegro fam­ily pro­duced 200 liters of olive oil in the last har­vest, over­com­ing the chal­lenges cre­ated by the uncer­tainty of the Covid-19 pan­demic. Škegro added that he is opti­mistic for this year’s har­vest as the weather so far has been good.

We are proud and full of hap­pi­ness because our hard work has been rec­og­nized… despite the Covid-19 pan­demic, which put an end to nor­mal pro­duc­tion,” he said.


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