Care, Commitment Lie Behind the Success of Southern Italian Producers at NYIOOC

Producers from Calabria, Campania and Puglia overcame drought and wildfires to once again place among the world’s highest-quality olive oils in New York.

Marco Rizzi at the Allegretti mill
By Ylenia Granitto
Jul. 5, 2022 17:01 UTC
Marco Rizzi at the Allegretti mill

Part of our con­tin­u­ing spe­cial cov­er­age of the 2022 NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition.

Southern Italian pro­duc­ers con­tributed sig­nif­i­cantly to the suc­cess of their moth­er­land at the tenth NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition.

Overall, Italy was the most awarded coun­try in the world’s largest olive oil qual­ity com­pe­ti­tion for the sixth con­sec­u­tive year.

See Also:Best Olive Oils From Italy

Producers from Calabria, Campania and Puglia over­came the drought of the pre­vi­ous sea­son to claim a sub­stan­tial num­ber of awards for their mono­va­ri­etal and blended extra vir­gin olive oils, care­fully crafted from local vari­eties.

Producers from the three regions attrib­uted their suc­cess to pas­sion, skill, tra­di­tion, the lat­est milling tech­nol­ogy and a desire to farm sus­tain­ably.

Among the win­ners was Azienda Olivicola Petrazzuoli, in Ruviano, Campania, which earned a Gold Award for its Fontana Lupo brand, a clever fusion of Frantoio, Ortice, Caiazzana, and FS-17 olives.


Giovanni Petrazzuoli and his mother Rosa at Fontana Lupo farm

This recog­ni­tion filled us with pride, espe­cially since this is the third-con­sec­u­tive Gold Award,” Giovanni Petrazzuoli told Olive Oil Times.

Making an organic prod­uct, always main­tain­ing the same high level [of qual­ity] with all the weather issues we have faced these years is not easy,” he added. It means that our pro­duc­tion method has reached an excel­lent stan­dard.”

The farm is named after an ancient tuff foun­tain used over the cen­turies by the local farm­ers to irri­gate their crops – the water sup­ply sys­tem still works, and, last year, it was vital in sav­ing the har­vest.

Last year, due to drought, we had to resort to emer­gency irri­ga­tion,” Petrazzuoli said. We have lost part of the fruit, but we were able to obtain very good oil.”

Sprawling over 10 hectares of hilly land, his groves include sev­eral vari­eties, some of which were recently planted.

We have planted some more Ortice,” Petrazzuoli said. Furthermore, we added a new plot of Ravece that will soon enter pro­duc­tion. However, most of our trees are a cen­tury old, and, in par­tic­u­lar, we take spe­cial care of some mil­lenary Caiazzana trees.”

He explained that pro­duc­ing pre­mium prod­ucts means work­ing harder in the olive grove, espe­cially in the last few years.

We must adapt to these ongo­ing cli­matic issues,” he said. Our actions must become increas­ingly pre­cise. You have to sweat a lit­tle if you want always to main­tain the afore­men­tioned qual­ity stan­dards.”

Next weeks will be cru­cial due to the ris­ing tem­per­a­tures,” Petrazzuoli added. It is time to pay even closer atten­tion to our olive trees.”

Nestled in the hills of Girifalco, on a strip of land between the Tyrrhenian Sea and the Ionian Sea, Frisina Estate is where Anita Regenass pro­duces Olio Frisina, which earned a Silver Award, with her fam­ily.


Frisina Regenass family at the mill

We are very happy with this pres­ti­gious inter­na­tional recog­ni­tion,” she said. It fur­ther con­firms the valid­ity of the qual­ity path we have taken.”

Located in Calabria, the sec­ond-largest olive oil-pro­duc­ing region in Italy after Puglia, their olive grove con­sists mainly of the local Carolea vari­ety. The grove cov­ers about 18 hectares of land between 450 and 500 meters of ele­va­tion.


Last year, a sum­mer with very high tem­per­a­tures prompted us to use res­cue irri­ga­tion,” Regenass.

However, she added that the heat wave pre­vented the devel­op­ment of the olive fruit fly, a sig­nif­i­cant pest for her Carolea olives.

In recent years, the tem­per­a­tures in October, the month of the har­vest, started to become a prob­lem for the stor­age of fruits,” she said. This is another rea­son we crush the olives in a very short time, within a few hours from har­vest­ing, in our com­pany mill.”

Thanks to a two-phase tech­nol­ogy of the lat­est gen­er­a­tion, the fam­ily obtains a prod­uct with supe­rior organolep­tic prop­er­ties while sav­ing a sig­nif­i­cant amount of water.

The man­age­ment of our farm is organic,” Regenass said. We con­stantly check our plants and take action only when nec­es­sary with tar­geted and sus­tain­able inter­ven­tions for them and the envi­ron­ment.”

Her focus will be on fruit devel­op­ment and cop­ing with ris­ing tem­per­a­tures in the com­ing weeks.

So far, we have had quite favor­able weather,” Regenass said. The phe­no­log­i­cal phases of flow­er­ing and fruit set duly took place, giv­ing us hope for a suc­cess­ful out­come of the process. We will take extra care until the time of har­vest­ing.”

As a result of the sig­nif­i­cant par­tic­i­pa­tion of farm­ers and pro­duc­ers from Puglia, who are respon­si­ble for more than half of total pro­duc­tion in Italy, sev­eral awards were deliv­ered to the coun­try’s prover­bial heel.

Among the tri­umphant pro­duc­ers from the region is Marco Rizzi, who earned two Gold Awards.

This com­pe­ti­tion rep­re­sents an oppor­tu­nity for con­fronta­tion at an inter­na­tional scale,” the pro­ducer behind Tenute Allegretti told Olive Oil Times. It allows us to mon­i­tor our qual­ity level in this high-end mar­ket where con­sumers are increas­ingly becom­ing aware of the olive oil cul­ture, rec­og­niz­ing the sen­so­r­ial char­ac­ter­is­tics and the nutri­tional value of our prod­ucts.”

Rizzi’s olive grove stretches over 100 hectares, host­ing 12,000 Frantoio, Leccino, Cima di Melfi, Coratina and Picholine trees. In addi­tion, sev­eral mil­lenary Ogliarola Barese trees are in the organic grove in the Itria Valley.

Last sum­mer, we reg­is­tered very high tem­per­a­tures, but in the end, we had a very good har­vest,” he said. The strong heat posed a risk for the aro­mas of our oil, but still, we man­aged to cre­ate great prod­ucts thanks to a painstak­ing work in the mill.”

The com­pany facil­ity boasts the lat­est tech­nol­ogy with an improved malaxer to obtain an extra vir­gin olive oil with more polyphe­nols.

The extrac­tion is per­formed between 18° C and 20 °C,” Rizzi said. I am pleased to say that we rely on the exper­tise of Alfredo Marasciulo, who assists us in cre­at­ing our out­stand­ing sen­so­r­ial pro­files. Indeed, the fig­ure of the taster, akin to the enol­o­gist in the wine indus­try, is gain­ing momen­tum in our sec­tor.”

There is not a uni­ver­sal recipe to pro­duce good olive oils,” he added. There are so many fac­tors at play that are chang­ing every year, espe­cially in this period char­ac­ter­ized by extreme weather.”

Regardless of whether you use top-class machin­ery, you must find the right bal­ance between all of them in the pro­duc­tion process,” Rizzi con­tin­ued. Every year is dif­fer­ent, every year is a new chal­lenge.”

Situated just to the north of the Itria Valley, Le Due Bendette earned a Gold and Silver Award for a pair of organic blends.


Benedetta Stallone Desantis at Le Due Benedette farm

Being among the world’s best olive oil pro­duc­ers is an extra­or­di­nary sat­is­fac­tion, espe­cially for a small fam­ily com­pany like ours,” said Benedetta Stallone Desantis. These awards repay our work in the field, but I must say they also helped us increase sales.”

In par­tic­u­lar, at the farm­ers’ mar­kets, the award stick­ers that we have put on bot­tles and tins catch the atten­tion of con­sumers, who, once they found out that we suc­ceeded in the com­pe­ti­tion, become enthu­si­as­tic,” she added.

From a 2.5‑hectare grove close to the sea in the Pizzicocca dis­trict, Stallone Desantis obtains her Coratina-dom­i­nated blend.

This is a very fra­grant oil, and I think that this depends on the prox­im­ity to the sea of the plot, which affects the char­ac­ter­is­tics of the soil,” she said.

From another grove in the coun­try­side of Bitonto, made up of Coratina and a small part of autochtho­nous Cima di Bitonto, she pro­duces Peragineto.

The lat­ter has a more rounded taste,” she said. They are sim­i­lar prod­ucts made with the same vari­ety, yet they are well dis­tin­guish­able.”

Last sum­mer’s drought cre­ated con­cern, but September rains saved the har­vest and allowed them to col­lect healthy fruits.

As cli­mate change is advanc­ing, it is fun­da­men­tal to carry out sus­tain­able agri­cul­tural prac­tices,” Stallone Desantis said.

Everything we do in the grove aims at pre­serv­ing the envi­ron­ment with its wildlife,” she con­cluded. Indeed, our organic olive groves thrive also thanks to its rich bio­di­ver­sity.”

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