Centonze, a Forward-Looking Farm Rooted in Sicily's History

In western Sicily’s Belice Valley, Centonze produces award-winning extra virgin olive oil, celebrating the land and history, while focusing on sustainability and innovation.

Harvesting at night at Centonze
Dec. 9, 2021
By Ylenia Granitto
Harvesting at night at Centonze

Recent News

Among the many appeal­ing qual­i­ties of extra vir­gin olive oil is the strong bond the prod­uct shares with the ter­ri­to­ries where it is pro­duced.

Starting from the label on to the sen­sory pro­file, Centonze Case di Latomie strives to pro­vide cus­tomers a taste of its land and his­tory.

In all of this scenery, you breathe the ori­gins of olive farm­ing.- Nino Centonze, owner, Centonze Case di Latomie

The salient trait of our farm is out­lined by the name, Case di Latomie,” Nino Centonze told Olive Oil Times. Our orchards lie close to the archae­o­log­i­cal park of Selinunte, the largest in Europe. They include some remains dat­ing back to 800 BC, namely a group of stone quar­ries.”

Called latomie, from the Greek words λᾶας, stone, and τέμνω, to cut, they have been dug by the peo­ple who once lived here to obtain the blocks of lime­stone tuff used in the con­struc­tion of the adjoin­ing vil­lage,” he added.

See Also:Producer Profiles

Among the ves­tiges, cen­turies-old olive trees thrive, one of which is esti­mated to be about 1,200 years old. These liv­ing wit­nesses to his­tory are part of a 90-hectare olive grove com­pris­ing 9,000 Nocellara trees, nes­tled in the heart of the Belice Valley.

Most of them descend from wild olive trees, which were grafted by peas­ants in for­mer times,” Centonze said. An inter­est­ing pecu­liar­ity is that they are rooted directly on the cal­care­ous tuff, and I think that this min­eral com­po­nent has a pos­i­tive effect on the fla­vor, round­ing off the typ­i­cal notes of arti­choke, grass, tomato and almond of our extra vir­gin olive oils.”

business-europe-profiles-production-the-best-olive-oils-centonze-a-forwardlooking-farm-rooted-in-sicilys-history-olive-oil-times

Biancolilla, tra­di­tion­ally inserted as a pol­li­na­tor, and a few Cerasuola and Giarraffa trees, char­ac­ter­ized by large fruits, com­plete the com­po­si­tion of the grove.

I define us as an archaeo-olive farm. Here, you can stroll through a his­tor­i­cal land­scape, in the shadow of mon­u­men­tal trees that have been handed down over gen­er­a­tions,” Centonze said. In all of this scenery, you breathe the ori­gins of olive farm­ing. We know that the olive tree is autochtho­nous to the Middle East. “

Greeks, in fact, due to their con­tacts with that area, were among the very first peo­ples to grasp its value and spread its cul­ti­va­tion,” he added. Olive oil becomes so impor­tant for light­ing houses, tem­ples and ports, that they brought the tree with them when they set­tled in Sicily.”

Today, with the sup­port of my fam­ily, I look after this land, pro­tect­ing its cul­tural and envi­ron­men­tal trea­sures, while inno­vat­ing and improv­ing our com­pany,” Centonze con­tin­ued.

business-europe-profiles-production-the-best-olive-oils-centonze-a-forwardlooking-farm-rooted-in-sicilys-history-olive-oil-times

The prop­erty was estab­lished in the early 1950s by his name­sake grand­fa­ther, and in 2000, his father, Giacomo, started to set up a farm­house.

At that time, our extra vir­gin olive oil was increas­ingly appre­ci­ated by our guests, tourists and trav­el­ers from all over the world,” Centonze said. We had many requests, and this prompted me to cre­ate the pack­ag­ing of what was our first half-liter bot­tle. It was 2009, and I focused on high-qual­ity pro­duc­tion, first rely­ing on a good oil mill nearby and after­ward build­ing our own pro­duc­tion facil­ity.”

The estate now includes a 29-room farm­house with a spa and two out­door pools, along­side a restau­rant with farm-to-table prod­ucts and an adja­cent organic veg­etable gar­den. From here, a short walk through the olive trees takes guests to the state-of-the-art com­pany mill.

business-europe-profiles-production-the-best-olive-oils-centonze-a-forwardlooking-farm-rooted-in-sicilys-history-olive-oil-times

Only the small­est fruits are crushed in the two-phase machin­ery, within a few hours after being hand-picked and selected,” Centonze said.

He added that the dru­pes are col­lected and imme­di­ately sorted, as the larger ones are intended for table olive con­sump­tion. After being sorted, they are processed accord­ing to dif­fer­ent meth­ods.

The table olive pro­duc­tion process and olive oil cul­ture, in gen­eral, are so cen­tral to the town of Castelvetrano, where Centonze’s farm is located, that its name was given to a pop­u­lar method to pre­pare table olives.

Nocellara can reach con­sid­er­able dimen­sions asso­ci­ated with a major aque­ous com­po­nent,” he said. Therefore, we choose the fruits by size in order to obtain oils that have excel­lent fea­tures, includ­ing a proper amount of polyphe­nols, just like those that over the years have been awarded at the NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition.”

Among these is Chiaro di Luna, an extra vir­gin olive oil har­vested under the moon­light.

business-europe-profiles-production-the-best-olive-oils-centonze-a-forwardlooking-farm-rooted-in-sicilys-history-olive-oil-times

Every year, for a cou­ple of weeks the clear­est nights are ded­i­cated to night oper­a­tions,” Centonze said. He is among the pio­neers of night har­vest­ing.

In this way, we have absolute con­trol of tem­per­a­tures since we usu­ally start har­vest­ing between September 27th and 30th and we go on through­out the month of October, which is still warm dur­ing day­time with up to 25 ºC to 26 °C,” he said. “​This pro­ce­dure allows us to take advan­tage of the lower tem­per­a­tures after 11 p.m. and to stress out the olives as lit­tle as pos­si­ble.”

Whether it is under the sun or the moon­light, the oil is left to decant for a max­i­mum of one day once it has been extracted, before it is fil­tered and stored under nitro­gen.

At this moment, we are in the process of cre­at­ing a new in-line stor­age sys­tem,” Centonze said. This update shall basi­cally ensure that the oil will be com­pletely pro­tected from oxy­gen until bot­tling.”

A gen­eral upgrad­ing of the com­pany is under­way, which involves the expan­sion of the farm­ing land. Another 25 hectares are set to host new olive groves. A total of 22,000 trees will be planted by the begin­ning of 2022.

Centonze said his team is com­mit­ted to man­ag­ing the vast estate with the low­est envi­ron­men­tal impact. The energy of the whole com­pany is obtained by pho­to­voltaic pan­els and a bio­mass heat­ing sys­tem in the facil­ity, which allows Centonze to reuse pomace and pits result­ing from the extrac­tion of olive oil.

We are focused on sus­tain­abil­ity, pay­ing the utmost atten­tion to the trans­for­ma­tion and use of by-prod­ucts,” Centonze said. We have at heart the pro­tec­tion and the respect of this ter­ri­tory.”

This is also a way to honor our con­sumers in the world, as we want to offer them a true Sicilian extra vir­gin olive oil, one that springs from a healthy and beau­ti­ful land and, wher­ever they may be, gives them a taste of it,” he con­cluded.


Olive Oil Times Video Series
Advertisement

Related Articles

Feedback / Suggestions