Finca La Torre's Pursuit of Perfection in Málaga

Finca La Torre has won six Gold and two Best in Class Awards at the New York International Olive Oil Competition. "While most farmers harvest very late, we bet on a very early harvest," explained Víctor Pérez, the company's director.

Feb. 28, 2017
By Pablo Esparza

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Placed just south of Jaén and Córdoba, no won­der why Málaga province, in Southern Spain, may have been a bit over­shad­owed. At least when it comes to olive oil. But in a cor­ner, in the north of the province, things are chang­ing.

For four years in a row, Finca la Torre has been cho­sen as the best organic extra vir­gin olive oil pro­ducer in Spain by the country’s Ministry of Agriculture.

There is another way you can fol­low, which is the bet on qual­ity. Not pro­duc­ing big quan­ti­ties but reach­ing to the end. To the con­sumer.- Víctor Pérez, Finca La Torre

This estate near Antequera, only 50km inland from the provin­cial cap­i­tal, has won more than 30 awards in the last five years, includ­ing six Gold and two Best in Class Awards at the pres­ti­gious New York International Olive Oil Competition.

In Málaga, there is the advan­tage that there exist dif­fer­ent cli­mates. Thus there is a very impor­tant diver­sity in terms of vari­eties of olives,” said Víctor Pérez, an engi­neer and direc­tor of this Swiss-owned com­pany.

The Northern stretch of the province, where Finca La Torre is sit­u­ated, is a dry area with some Mediterranean influ­ence. Here is where the sea of olive trees” — spread­ing north­ward up to Jaén — begins.

South of the province, closer to the sea, the land­scape turns more moun­tain­ous and humid.

Depending on the ter­ri­tory where we are, we will be able to taste very dif­fer­ent kinds of olive oils. So the wealth of vari­eties here is much more impor­tant than in other regions,” Pérez told Olive Oil Times.

Víctor Pérez (Photo by Pablo Esparza)

From the top of a hill where work­ers are prun­ing the olive trees after the har­vest, Pérez pointed to dif­fer­ent areas of the estate. Old tra­di­tional olive groves alter­nate with newly planted trees, pas­tures and wood­lands. Pérez high­lighted the impor­tance of this diverse ecosys­tem.

We have around 380 hectares. Of those, just 230 are ded­i­cated to olive trees. The rest is for­est. We com­bine olive trees with cat­tle. This plays an impor­tant role as it helps both to con­trol weeds and fer­til­iza­tion.”

The whole pro­duc­tion, he said, is cer­ti­fied as bio­dy­namic and organic and the estate’s 34,000 olive trees fea­ture a range of local vari­eties.

Roughly 50 per­cent out of 230 hectares are of 130-year-old tra­di­tional olives of the Hojiblanca vari­ety. We also have 100 hectares of inten­sive olive groves where we grow four dif­fer­ent vari­eties: Hojiblanca, Arbequina, Picudo and Cornicabra,” Pérez explained.

When asked about the rea­sons for the recent suc­cess of Finca la Torres’s oils, he added:

We have spe­cial­ized much more in the com­mer­cial­iza­tion of top-of-the-line olive oil. We are a com­pany that has its own pro­duc­tion and we also bet on a change of phi­los­o­phy. While most farm­ers har­vest very late, we bet on a very early har­vest.”

Málaga lies well behind Spain’s olive oil giants in terms of pro­duc­tion. Still, this Andalusian province ranks fifth among the olive oil pro­duc­ing areas in the European coun­try, just after Jaén, Córdoba, Granada and Seville.

In 2015 – 16, Málaga — which is home to more than 22,000 olive farm­ers — pro­duced 75,000 tons of olive oil. It may be far from the 600,000 tons of Jaén, which accounts for around 20 per­cent of the world’s pro­duc­tion, but it is not a despi­ca­ble fig­ure.

However, beyond quan­tity, things are chang­ing in Málaga’s olive oil scene. And it is start­ing to spread beyond Finca la Torre.

I think we have spear­headed this,” Pérez said, in the sense that pro­duc­ers around you see that you are capa­ble of win­ning the Foods of Spain Award for the last years and also inter­na­tional recog­ni­tion.”

This opens the path to other ways of fac­ing the pro­duc­tion of olive oil: not only the typ­i­cal bulk pro­duc­tion. No. There is another way you can fol­low, which is the bet on qual­ity. Not pro­duc­ing big quan­ti­ties but reach­ing to the end. To the con­sumer.”

Many pro­duc­ers are join­ing this phi­los­o­phy,” Pérez assured.


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