`Award-Winning Producer Dedicates Accolade to Late Wife - Olive Oil Times
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Producer Profiles

Award-Winning Producer Dedicates Accolade to Late Wife

By Nedjeljko Jusup
Apr. 25, 2023 12:38 UTC

Each olive grower expe­ri­ences recog­ni­tion and awards for their extra vir­gin olive oils in his or her own way.

Producers gen­er­ally say the feed­back from the World Olive Oil Competition experts proves they are on the right path, con­firms the qual­ity of their brand and pro­vides a new incen­tive to work even harder.

I ded­i­cate the award to my beloved wife Magdalena, who is most respon­si­ble for our suc­cess.- Ivan Pfeiffer, owner, M I Olive

Located in Bol, a town on the Croatian island of Brač, M I Olive won a Gold Award at the 2023 NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition for an indige­nous Levantinska bjelka mono­va­ri­etal.

It’s an incred­i­ble feel­ing,” said Ivan Pfeiffer, the owner of M I Olive, in reac­tion to news of the award.

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I ded­i­cate the award to my beloved wife Magdalena, who is most respon­si­ble for our suc­cess,” Pfeiffer told Olive Oil Times.


Magdalena and Ivan

However, Magdalena did not expe­ri­ence the tremen­dous suc­cess of the fam­ily brand she co-founded. She died sud­denly at a hos­pi­tal in Zagreb, the cap­i­tal of Croatia, on October 24, just as the har­vest in the fam­ily olive grove was com­pleted. The fruits were trans­formed the same day at Uljara Arnerić in Supetar.

After sud­denly falling ill, before leav­ing for treat­ment in Zagreb, Magdalena told her hus­band and other fam­ily mem­bers, father Nikola, mother Mirjana and brother Stipe, not to worry about her. Instead, she urged them to focus on the har­vest and milling to ensure the oil was top qual­ity.


Ivan and his father-in-law Nikola

The har­vest lasted four days. Along with fam­ily mem­bers, Pfeiffer’s friends also helped and hand­picked 7.5 tons of fruit from 260 olive trees, from which 1,200 liters of extra vir­gin oil were obtained.

In those days, we expected the return of Magdalena to cel­e­brate a suc­cess­ful sea­son together,” Pfeiffer said.

On the day he decided to visit her, news arrived from Zagreb that Magdalena had passed away. After the surgery, she suf­fered a pul­monary embolism, which was fatal.

Awful, awful, don’t ask me how I felt,” Pfeiffer said. I would pre­fer to have died together with her.” These words could have been the tragic epi­logue of this story, but life goes on. What can­not be changed must be accepted, Pfeiffer knows.

He was born in Vinkovci, in east­ern Croatia. After grad­u­at­ing from high school twenty years ago, he came to the Adriatic island of Brač in the cen­ter of Dalmatia, Croatia’s most promi­nent tourist and olive-grow­ing region.

Pfeiffer got a job as a sea­sonal worker in a pri­vate restau­rant and fell in love. Conquered by the island’s won­ders, he fell in love with the beau­ti­ful Magdalena, whose father, Nikola, grows olives and pro­duces olive oil.

Moreover, he was the first to plant olive trees south of the island, below Vidova Gora, the high­est point on Croatia’s Adriatic islands at 778 meters.

When the vines on the land had grown old, he did not plant new ones. Instead, olive trees were planted. In those days, every­one laughed at him, he told us, and today his olive grove is the old­est on that part of the island.


Now, extra vir­gin olive oil from Brač is the 33rd Croatian prod­uct with a Protected Designation of Origin or Protected Geographical Indication cer­ti­fi­ca­tion from the European Union. The oil must be made with eighty per­cent of an autochtho­nous vari­ety to meet the PDO cri­te­ria.

Brač olive oil is char­ac­ter­ized by a low pro­por­tion of free fatty acids, a low per­ox­ide value and a high bal­ance of phe­no­lic com­pounds with bal­anced bit­ter­ness and spici­ness, fruiti­ness and the smell of fresh olive fruit, leaves and grass.

All its pos­i­tive and spe­cific char­ac­ter­is­tics are equally influ­enced by the vari­ety of olive, spe­cific geo­log­i­cal and cli­matic con­di­tions, and the skill of Brač pro­duc­ers to grow and trans­form their olives,” Pfeiffer said.

When he came to Brač, he knew noth­ing about olive farm­ing. Now, Pfeiffer is cel­e­brat­ing a Gold Award from the world’s most pres­ti­gious olive oil qual­ity con­test.

In the olive grove, we also have a drip irri­ga­tion sys­tem, so even in the past dry sea­son, the crop was above aver­age, and the fruits were healthy,” Pfeiffer said.

He and his wife Magdalena went one step fur­ther. We took the ini­tia­tive to start pack­ag­ing the oil in bot­tles and to brand it because until then, the bot­tler was sell­ing it by the liter, two liters or five liters,” Pfeiffer said.

We put a lot of effort and work into brand­ing, want­ing to get the word out about our extra vir­gin oil obtained by the tra­di­tional method, by cold press­ing the same day up to 12 hours after har­vest,” he said.

Nikola Boldović opened a store to sell olive oil and other prod­ucts along the road that leads from the olive groves to Zlatni Rat, con­sid­ered the most beau­ti­ful sandy beach in the Mediterranean.

They planned to build a tra­di­tional house with a tast­ing room in the olive grove to develop tourism.

Now, after the tragic event, all that has been stopped. The shock is too great, but all those who know Pfeiffer believe that he and the rest of the fam­ily will per­se­vere and real­ize every­thing he and Magdalena planned.

The pro­duced quan­tity of this M I Olive extra vir­gin olive oil will be deter­mined only by nature – when it will be kind to us, and there will be more oil, the year it decides to be harsher, the quan­ti­ties will be less, but maybe even bet­ter,” he said.

Despite the tragedy, he will con­tinue to live and work as if Magdalena is still with him, even though he misses her immensely.

After ded­i­cat­ing this year’s award to her mem­ory, Pfieffer said he would pro­duce an extra vir­gin olive oil bear­ing Magdalena’s name. When the experts laud it some­day, he said it would be his great­est sat­is­fac­tion and another expres­sion that love lives for­ever.


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