The launch of Brad Pitt’s and Angelina Jolie’s olive oil last spring may not have made just as much news as their impending divorce, but the Hollywood stars are not the only celebrities to launch an olive oil brand. Olive growing seems to be an increasing trend among the rich and famous who own properties in Tuscany and Provence.
Of course, they won't make much money selling it, but there are fiscal advantages to transforming a secondary residence into an agricultural unit.
Long before Brangelina were an item, Sting and his wife Trudie Styler were already producing and selling their own organic olive oil. In 1999 they bought a 300-year-old estate in Tuscany — a 350-hectare property that included olive groves. Named after the estate, their olive oil, Il Palagio, is an organic medium blend made of Frantoio, Moraiolo and Leccino olive varieties. It won a Gold Award at the 2017 New York International Olive Oil Competition (NYIOOC) in April.
Popular French singer and actor Patrick Bruel took home a gold at an olive oil competition in Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur this year. The award was the most recent addition to his eclectic collection of accolades that also includes three diamond records, a National Order of Merit from the French government, and a World Series of Poker bracelet (the most coveted prize in the poker world).
Despite the attention his latest award has generated in France, the singer keeps a low profile when it comes to marketing his olive oil which is sold under the brand name l’Huile H. His name does not appear anywhere on the label, but it’s no secret that this monovarietal L’aglandau is produced on his 20-hectare private organic olive farm in Provence.
In an article in Le Figaro, Joël Gayet, the brand’s marketing specialist, explained that the singer shies away from publicity because he prefers to have his oil speak for itself.
The same article reported that French actor Jean Reno is another celebrity who spends time in his olive groves in Provence when he’s not under the bright lights. Reno has been making his own oil since 2015 at his farm in the valley of Baux-de-Provence. Marketed under the name Réserve Jean Reno and with a production of 1,500 to 2,000 liters a year, it’s presently only for sale to American restaurants by the importer d’Artagnan.
Connoisseurs know that producing a high-quality extra virgin olive oil is labor-intensive and expensive as a result, but celebrity oils are often sold with a celebrity premium. Brangelina’s blend l’Huile d’Olive Miraval costs $31 per half-liter, while Sting and Styler’s Il Palagio is $31.77 on the Best Olive Oils Marketplace for the same quantity. Bruel’s olive oil is also sold for $31 (€28) on the L’Huile H website.
Despite the price tags, the limited quantities produced on these private estates are not big enough to guarantee a significant supplementary income, so what is it that attracts celebrities to olive oil making?
Alexis Muñoz, an expert olive oil producer who’s often consulted by stars and the super-rich who are looking to produce their own oil confirmed that the extra income is not a motivation, but there are other potential advantages. “Many stars buy properties in Provence where generally there are a few olive trees and even a mill located close by,” he told Le Figaro.
“Naturally they want to produce their own oil. Of course, they won’t make much money selling it, but there are fiscal advantages to transforming a secondary residence into an agricultural unit: less tax and the possibility to apply for grants.”
Other French celebrities who have produced and marketed their own olive oil include legendary singers Charles Aznavour and Léo Ferré actress and model Carole Bouquet and fashion designer Norma Kamali. More recently, Inès De La Fressange, the former face of Chanel, has lent her name to an olive oil by Oliviers & Co sold in a bottle specially designed by her.