Culture Meets Quality at Di Molfetta Pantaleo

The producers behind Di Molfetta Pantaleo believe spreading olive oil culture is the best way to create new customers and value.

Di Molfetta's olive harvesting team
By Paolo DeAndreis
May. 23, 2023 23:26 UTC
Di Molfetta's olive harvesting team

A broad cul­tural approach to olive oil pro­duc­tion allowed Apulian pro­duc­ers Di Molfetta Pantaleo to pour eight decades of olive grow­ing expe­ri­ence into one bot­tle of world-class extra vir­gin olive oil.

Their Coratina monocul­ti­var won a Gold Award at the NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition for the sec­ond year straight.

The biggest chal­lenge for olive pro­duc­ers remains the uncer­tainty of the weather.- Lucia Di Molfetta, co-owner, Di Molfetta Pantaleo

This is a Coratina extra vir­gin olive oil nur­tured by the native land of the Coratina olive trees, healthy as an olive oil can be, as it has a very high polyphe­nol count,” Lucia Di Molfetta, the co-owner of the fam­ily com­pany, told Olive Oil Times.

The rel­a­tively high yield obtained from their grove, the trees’ resilience to com­mon pathogens and their abil­ity to thrive on dif­fer­ent soils are key to Coratina’s pop­u­lar­ity.

See Also:Producer Profiles

Coratina monocul­ti­var extra vir­gin olive oils and blends from around the Northern Hemisphere earned 40 awards at the NYIOOC.

A long­stand­ing fam­ily olive farm­ing tra­di­tion cou­pled with the pur­suit of qual­ity made the family’s younger gen­er­a­tions effec­tively con­tribute to a new vision,” Di Molfetta said.

The old press used for decades by Di Molfetta’s ances­tors is now a museum. The heavy grinders slowly pulled by ani­mals in 1950 to crush olives have been replaced by state-of-the-art tech­nol­ogy in a mod­ern mill.

The museum allows us to show our vis­i­tors where it all started and how it used to work,” Di Molfetta said. It is an evoca­tive space which is also used for events, as we rou­tinely have local school pupils come to explore the her­itage of our region.”


Di Molfetta’s museum, home to its original presses

Both young stu­dents and oleo­tourists can explore the mill’s his­tory and par­tic­i­pate in olive milling oper­a­tions dur­ing the har­vest sea­son.

Children are the con­sumers of the future,” Di Molfetta said. Given the rush of their parent’s lives, many of them start believ­ing that food comes from super­mar­kets. Instead, they can learn that food comes from hard work, pas­sion and expe­ri­ence.”

We have sev­eral activ­i­ties; among them, we devel­oped the tast­ings,” Di Molfetta said, hint­ing at the bruschet­te­ria launched by the fam­ily, an in-mill restau­rant named for bruschetta, an Italian spe­cialty made with sliced toasted bread eaten with olive oil and a gar­lic clove.

The restau­rant allows its clients to taste Di Molfetta’s extra vir­gin olive oils with dozens of dif­fer­ent types of bruschet­tas and fully immerse them­selves in Apulian cui­sine. They can also taste an olive beer pro­duced by Di Molfetta’s local part­ner with olive leaves.


Di Molfetta’s bruschetteria allows guests to enjoy a traditional delicacy with high-quality extra virgin olive oil.

In the restau­rant, the fam­ily also orga­nizes Apulian cui­sine courses for school pupils and tourists, allow­ing them to explore the many olive oil uses.

Given its mis­sion to spread olive oil cul­ture, Di Molfetta’s experts also orga­nize train­ing days for olive grow­ers focused on spe­cific tasks, such as using organic fer­til­iz­ers and cor­rect approaches to prun­ing.

We con­sider this very rel­e­vant for the whole region, for exam­ple, for learn­ing sus­tain­able prac­tices,” Di Molfetta said. The inverted poly­conic vase is taught in the prun­ing classes.”

A deep under­stand­ing of the olive tree and the deploy­ment of good agri­cul­tural prac­tices are con­sid­ered essen­tial by the fam­ily for the well-being of the trees and olive oil qual­ity.


While Coratina trees com­prise a rel­e­vant por­tion of the 30 hectares of fam­ily olive orchards, Di Molfetta also grows Peranzana and Ogliarola trees, native cul­ti­vars of Puglia. The fam­ily crafts monocul­ti­var extra vir­gin olive oil from each olive vari­ety and blends them to pro­duce del­i­cate and intense prod­ucts.

Last year’s har­vest in Puglia chal­lenged many expe­ri­enced grow­ers. Di Molfetta’s olive trees were affected by the months of above-aver­age tem­per­a­tures expe­ri­enced across the region.


Hot weather and drought severely impacted Di Molfetta’s olive harvest in Puglia.

On top of that, it was an off-year’ in her olive trees’ nat­ural alter­nate fruit cycle, result­ing in a lower yield. When you grow olives, you have to work with what nature gives you,” Di Molfetta said.

Our olive orchards are tra­di­tional, and all irri­gated,” she added. Thanks to the extreme care we apply through­out the year, the organic fer­til­iz­ers we deploy and cor­rect prun­ing tech­niques, we could choose the best olives and still pro­duce high-qual­ity extra vir­gin olive oil.”

However, the con­di­tions for the next crop year are already bet­ter than those of the pre­vi­ous one. It is cool, and it has been rain­ing for four days now,” Di Molfetta said. This month last year, tem­per­a­tures rose to 40 ºC.”

The local tem­per­a­tures reported through­out 2022 were above aver­age, with record highs dur­ing sum­mer­time.

While it is still too early to pre­dict how the new sea­son will unfold, the con­di­tions have been good. These days, we are expe­ri­enc­ing an extra­or­di­nar­ily beau­ti­ful olive flow­er­ing in very good cli­mate con­di­tions,” Di Molfetta said. Rain is good for the olive trees at this moment.”

Our hope now is that tem­per­a­tures do not sky­rocket like last year,” she added. We hope it won’t go from abun­dant pre­cip­i­ta­tion to extreme heat.”

The biggest chal­lenge for olive pro­duc­ers remains the uncer­tainty of the weather,” Di Molfetta con­tin­ued. Through the years, we have seen cli­mate change; the per­cep­tion of it, it is absolutely vivid. Due to the extreme weather events that have been increas­ing sig­nif­i­cantly in recent years, this is some­thing that we often talk about in our region.”


Showing tourists the Di Molfetta’s modern mill

The chang­ing cli­mate is a sig­nif­i­cant cause of ten­sions in the inter­na­tional mar­kets. And on olive oil prices,” Di Molfetta added. What we are see­ing in Spain, where pro­duc­ers are very wor­ried because of the lack of rain­fall, is that extra vir­gin olive oil prices in Spain are align­ing with the tra­di­tion­ally higher Italian extra vir­gin olive oil prices.”

In such a chal­leng­ing moment for olive farm­ing, these price increases might entice con­sumers with a new approach to qual­ity olive oils.

For high-qual­ity pro­duc­ers, what is hap­pen­ing, in the end, might also have some good out­comes,” Di Molfetta said. Such prices might finally end the bad habit of offer­ing exces­sively dis­counted prices, which have been rou­tinely applied by large retail­ers on olive oil on sale. Maybe con­sumers will start con­sid­er­ing olive oils dif­fer­ently when they will not find it as a spe­cial offer at €2 a bot­tle.”

The first step of giv­ing value to qual­ity, though, remains to spread olive oil cul­ture so that con­sumers learn to iden­tify what a qual­ity olive oil is,” she added.

This cul­tural work has also ben­e­fited inter­na­tional sales. Clients from abroad once used to look for Italian-cer­ti­fied extra vir­gin olive oils, such as Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) prod­ucts,” Di Molfetta said. Now they see that we pro­mote our Apulian ori­gin, the Apulian cul­ture and the Apulian food prod­ucts; they do not need any­thing else.”

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