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.
“It’s an incredible feeling,” said Ivan Pfeiffer, the owner of M I Olive, in reaction to news of the award.See Also:Producer Profiles
“I dedicate the award to my beloved wife Magdalena, who is most responsible for our success,” Pfeiffer told Olive Oil Times.
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.
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.