Acclaimed Calabrian Producer Shares Insights on Blending, Organic Farming and Oleotourism

The producer behind Enotre discusses the challenges and opportunities for olive growers in Italy’s second-largest olive oil-producing region.

Pietro Pollizzi
By Paolo DeAndreis
Jul. 24, 2023 17:42 UTC
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Pietro Pollizzi

Pietro Pollizzi, the owner of Enotre, firmly believes that blends con­vey the best char­ac­ter­is­tics of extra vir­gin olive oil.

The Calabrian pro­ducer was backed up in his beliefs after his Deciso brand, a medium-inten­sity organic blend, earned a Gold Award at the 2023 NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition.

Some truly believe that hav­ing an organic orchard means not doing any­thing to the grove. On the con­trary, it means putting in place prac­tices that are com­pat­i­ble with nature.- Pietro Pollizzi, owner, Enotre

A good blend will always be richer than a monocul­ti­var extra vir­gin olive oil as it is the bearer of a richer organolep­tic pro­file,” he told Olive Oil Times.

At the 2023 edi­tion of the world’s largest olive oil qual­ity com­pe­ti­tion, blends took cen­ter stage, earn­ing more than 300 of the 747 total awards at the con­test.

See Also:Producer Profiles

It is harder and harder to pro­duce blends directly from the field,” Pollizzi said about the prac­tice of har­vest­ing and trans­form­ing olives from dif­fer­ent cul­ti­vars simul­ta­ne­ously.

It is dif­fi­cult to explain to the cus­tomers that nature changes year after year, so a blend in one sea­son might have some dif­fer­ent char­ac­ter­is­tics from the blend pro­duced the sea­son before,” he said.

The mar­ket is ask­ing more and more to sep­a­rate the cul­ti­vars; it is get­ting to the point that it asks for sep­a­rat­ing the sin­gle trees’ yields,” Pollizzi added. Most blends are made like that, start­ing from the sep­a­rated olive oils obtained from the dif­fer­ent cul­ti­vars.”

This prac­tice makes bal­anc­ing the blend eas­ier and obtain­ing sim­i­lar prod­ucts across sea­sons. In an indus­trial set­ting, sep­a­rat­ing the cul­ti­vars might have a mean­ing. By the way, obtain­ing the same prod­uct year after year requires sig­nif­i­cant skills,” he said.

Deciso’s fla­vors come from the Carolea and Ottobratica olives, tra­di­tional Calabrian olive vari­eties. Adding to their bou­quet is the Nocellara Messinese olive, native to nearby Sicily.

This is our her­itage. Still, these are only some of the many cul­ti­vars we care for on our hills,” Pollizzi said.

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Harvesting olives in Enotre’s hilly groves in Calabria, Italy

Pollizzi’s olive groves are located in the heart of Calabria, the south­west­ern­most por­tion of the Italian penin­sula and the coun­try’s sec­ond-largest olive oil-pro­duc­ing region. The groves sit in the foothills between La Sila, a moun­tain­ous plateau, and the Ionian Sea.

The olive trees ben­e­fit from the Mediterranean breeze and favor­able soil, which has been home to olives for almost three mil­len­nia. And there, Pollizzi is exper­i­ment­ing with many dif­fer­ent cul­ti­vars.

In the last eight years, he took charge of the orchards that belonged to his fam­ily and launched his cur­rent ven­ture. The farm is named after the ancient Enotri peo­ple, a pop­u­la­tion believed to have come from Greece. They set­tled in the area in the 13th Century BCE and thrived there for at least six cen­turies.

Since we started this new adven­ture, we began exper­i­ment­ing to iden­tify the vari­eties that might ben­e­fit the most from this unique loca­tion,” Pollizzi said.

Among his almost 800 olive trees, Pollizzi grows many well-known Italian cul­ti­vars, such as Leccio del Corno, Nostrana di Brisighella, Nocellara del Belice and Grignano, a com­mon vari­ety in north­ern Italy.

profiles-the-best-olive-oils-production-europe-acclaimed-calabrian-producer-shares-insights-on-blending-organic-farming-and-oleotourism-olive-oil-times

Pollizzi exeriments with traditional and non-traditional olive cultivation in his groves in Calabria.

I also started exper­i­ment­ing with Itrana,” Pollizzi said, refer­ring to a cul­ti­var orig­i­nally from cen­tral Italy, whose pop­u­lar­ity among olive farm­ers has grown sub­stan­tially in recent years.

The Itrana trees are adapt­ing to our region mar­velously and con­vey that spe­cial tomato fla­vor, be it the leaf of green tomato or the mature fla­vor of the ripened tomato,” he added.

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I am very pas­sion­ate about dis­cov­er­ing how these cul­ti­vars may set­tle in Calabria. Of course, I also focus on cul­ti­vars that are locally more com­mon, such as Ottobratica, Cassanese, Carolea and Coratina,” he con­tin­ued.

Several courses and new expe­ri­ences have allowed Pollizzi to evolve the olive oil tra­di­tion of his ances­tors. First les­son I learned is that qual­ity does not come overnight,” he said. It requires ded­i­ca­tion, knowl­edge and pas­sion. It also requires equip­ment, time and fatigue.”

To bet­ter main­tain the soil in Calabria, Pollizzi intro­duced ter­rac­ing with slopes usu­ally asso­ci­ated with the Tuscan farm­ing tra­di­tion.

We made those Cyclopean walls,” he said. They are not only beau­ti­ful, but they also exert a drain­ing effect, as they main­tain the ter­races’ soil firm and allow water to flow down with­out caus­ing dam­age.”

profiles-the-best-olive-oils-production-europe-acclaimed-calabrian-producer-shares-insights-on-blending-organic-farming-and-oleotourism-olive-oil-times

Cyclopean walls

Pollizzi’s pas­sion for olive farm­ing blos­somed a cou­ple of decades ago after he began car­ing for more than 600 trees on the oppo­site end of Italy, in the north­ern Veneto region.

Sometimes, the own­ers of those orchards do not have the time or the means to care for them. And I do not mind the work,” he said.

In those olive groves, you can find the local Marzemino cul­ti­var and oth­ers, such as Lecce del Corno, Frantoio, Leccino, Pendolino and even Coratina. They pro­duce entirely dif­fer­ent kinds of blends,” he remarked.

The whole of Enotre’s pro­duc­tion in Calabria is organic-cer­ti­fied. In Veneto, we are not cer­ti­fied at the moment, but we apply that same approach,” he said.

Pollizzi explained how organic olive grow­ing might mean higher pro­duc­tion costs than con­ven­tional farm­ing. Still, such a choice cor­re­sponds with the farmer’s approach to nature.

Some truly believe that hav­ing an organic orchard means not doing any­thing to the grove,” he said. On the con­trary, it means putting in place prac­tices that are com­pat­i­ble with nature and the sur­round­ing envi­ron­ment and with the trees.”

While the trees in Calabria enjoy mild winds and dry con­di­tions unfa­vor­able to pests such as the olive fruit fly, in Veneto, con­di­tions are quite dif­fer­ent.

I can say that the organic approach is eas­ier in Calabria, as in Veneto, tem­per­a­tures are dif­fer­ent, and even if the trees sit on the hills, they still feel the humid­ity of the Po Valley,” Pollizzi said. That means that the olive fruit fly and the fungi infec­tions tend to be more present.”

Even in Calabria, though, chal­lenges abound. With all the rain­fall we had, you can­not abstain from help­ing the trees with organic com­pat­i­ble treat­ments such as cop­per-based treat­ments or bacil­lus thurin­gen­sis [a com­mon bac­terium used in organic agri­cul­ture world­wide],” Pollizzi said.

In our area, you can bet dis­eases such as the pea­cock spot will be com­mon,” he added. You will see olive moths, bark bee­tles or otiorhynchus wee­vils.”

Catching on with the lat­est trends and build­ing on its his­tor­i­cal con­text, Enotre is also open­ing up to oleo­tourism, with tast­ings among the olive trees and nature walks.

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Pollizzi hosts a walk in the scenic Vergari River Reserve.

Our olive orchards are part of one of the walks in the Vergari River Reserve, a beau­ti­ful loca­tion that attracts up to 30,000 tourists a year,” said Pollizzi.

I was one of the sup­port­ers of this project since the begin­ning,” he added. Tourists go through Enotre’s orchards, walk­ing among the olive trees, and reach a nearby monastery. The reserve is part of the Cammino Basiliano,” Pollizzi said, refer­ring to the 1,500-kilometer net­work of his­tor­i­cal and nature trails inspired by Saint Basil’s life.

The walk is now known as the Enotri walk,” he con­cluded. Tourists in October will be able to exper­i­ment with the olive har­vest and visit highly rel­e­vant loca­tions in the vicini­ties, such as Tropea. It will be a hands-on food expe­ri­ence and a way to get in con­tact with local cul­ture.”


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