At Fontanaro Estate, Quality is Everything

At Fontanaro Estate, Lucia Verdacchi, and Giovanni and Alina Pinelli produce high-quality extra virgin olive oil while promoting sustainability and a circular economy.
Photo: Lucia Verdacchi
Apr. 8, 2021
Ylenia Granitto

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The Fontanaro Estate is nes­tled in the hills sur­round­ing the beau­ti­ful vil­lage of Paciano.

Named after the Latin words for Peace of Janus – Pax Jani – the estate is located near the remains of a Roman tem­ple ded­i­cated to the god of begin­nings and door­ways. This inspired the name of their extra vir­gin olive oil, the label of which reads Fonte della Pace” or Source of Peace.”

We must always build keep­ing an eye on the past, which is impor­tant for its tra­di­tions and wis­dom, while always look­ing toward the future and the next gen­er­a­tion.- Lucia Verdacchi, owner, Fontanaro Estate

When my hus­band Sandro and I got mar­ried in the sum­mer of 1972, my present to him was a plot with 100 olive trees,” Lucia Verdacchi told Olive Oil Times. He imme­di­ately loved the place as I do, and this is where our story as pro­duc­ers started.”

The small grove that sealed their pact of love is still part of the prop­erty, located in the province of Perugia, in Umbria, where Verdacchi’s fam­ily has pro­duced olive oil for gen­er­a­tions.

See Also: Producer Profiles

My grand­fa­ther was a vet­eri­nar­ian who loved ani­mals and plants,” she said. He passed on his pas­sion for the olive trees to me. I was born and lived else­where, work­ing in com­mu­ni­ca­tion, but at a cer­tain point, I felt the nat­ural and nec­es­sary desire to return here.”

On this land, the cou­ple has ren­o­vated an old farm­house and estab­lished new milling facil­i­ties.

profiles-production-at-fontanaro-estate-quality-is-everything-olive-oil-times

Photo: Lucia Verdacchi

Our main goal was to expand the olive grow­ing land,” Verdacchi said. I have fond mem­o­ries of when we were plac­ing the young trees in the ground and our two kids amused them­selves by hid­ing in those deep plant­ing holes.”

Today, Giovanni and Alina Pinelli, along with their mother, main­tain almost 4,000 trees located on gen­tle slopes over­look­ing Lake Trasimeno.

Frantoio, Leccino, Moraiolo, Pendolino and the autochtho­nous Dolce Agogia are organ­i­cally grown and blended to cre­ate a medium fruity extra vir­gin olive oil with aro­mas of wild chicory, green tea and arti­choke. These sen­so­r­ial char­ac­ter­is­tics have earned the oil awards at the NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition.

Along with pro­duc­ing award-win­ning olive oils, the fam­ily also runs a cou­ple of ded­i­cated agri­tourism prop­er­ties, both of which are named after olive vari­eties.

The invi­ta­tion to taste our oil is extended to all our guests,” Verdacchi said. We involve them in our great love for olive grow­ing and olive oil, and they leave full of enthu­si­asm about this prod­uct.”

According to Giovanni Pinelli, part of cul­ti­vat­ing this enthu­si­asm and appre­ci­a­tion for high-qual­ity extra vir­gin olive oil comes from edu­cat­ing con­sumers.

During the tast­ing ses­sions with our guests, we also make a com­par­i­son between our prod­uct and a low-qual­ity one,” he told Olive Oil Times. We want them to become aware of what a high-qual­ity extra vir­gin olive oil is.”

He empha­sized that the work behind run­ning a suc­cess­ful tourism busi­ness while still pro­duc­ing high-qual­ity oils is chal­leng­ing and done fol­low­ing the high­est stan­dards.

See Also: Best Olive Oils From Italy

Our olive trees are healthy and beau­ti­ful thanks to our low envi­ron­men­tal impact man­age­ment that respects the ter­ri­tory,” Pinelli said. Our mill is ded­i­cated exclu­sively to our fruits, despite hav­ing a much greater capa­bil­ity, because we want to man­age the whole pro­duc­tion cycle with the utmost care.”

We plan to expand our pro­duc­tion vol­umes by acquir­ing more olive groves while always main­tain­ing the high­est level of qual­ity,” he added.

The olives are col­lected and crushed in a short period in the mod­ern mill. The oil is then fil­tered and stored under nitro­gen in a tem­per­a­ture-con­trolled room.

The state-of-the-art tech­nol­ogy is con­tin­u­ously updated,” Pinelli said.

Beautifully inserted in the land­scape, the mill has a struc­ture designed to har­mo­nize with the ter­ri­tory. It was con­structed 10 years ago and the machin­ery has been com­pletely updated over the last two years.

It is painstak­ing and tire­less work,” Pinelli said. Yet we do it with enthu­si­asm, also with the help of great col­lab­o­ra­tors who share our vision and objec­tives.”

Love and enthu­si­asm are fun­da­men­tal emo­tions for any pro­ducer to have, Verdacchi added.

I think that it is impos­si­ble to do a great job with­out these,” she said. We are not just a com­mer­cial com­pany. Our goal is to develop a vision which includes the respect for the envi­ron­ment, the pro­mo­tion of a sus­tain­able lifestyle and the impor­tance of har­mony and beauty in people’s lives.”

Everything we do includes and expresses all of this,” she added.

The far-reach­ing approach under­ly­ing the entre­pre­neur­ial vision at Fontanaro Estate is a key fac­tor behind their suc­cess as pro­duc­ers. It is also the result of a com­bi­na­tion of their nat­ural pre­dis­po­si­tions and acquired expe­ri­ences.

We have always aimed at self-suf­fi­ciency,” Verdacchi said, explain­ing that they have imple­mented a total recy­cling sys­tem, from rain­wa­ter to the residues of milling, which are returned to the earth.

At the begin­ning, it seemed impor­tant to us to use resources effi­ciently and respon­si­bly,” she said. Nowadays, the cir­cu­lar econ­omy is a model pro­moted glob­ally as a solu­tion for a sus­tain­able future.”

The Umbrian farmer revealed that their long-term goal is to set up a coop­er­a­tive with the olive mills of the area to pro­duce energy.

We just have a draft project,” Verdacchi said. Even if it takes years, I believe it is impor­tant to have a pur­pose, a vision. We have sev­eral projects under con­struc­tion.”

I think that we must always build keep­ing an eye on the past, which is impor­tant for its tra­di­tions and wis­dom, while always look­ing toward the future and the next gen­er­a­tion,” she con­cluded. In this sense, it is essen­tial to pro­tect the bio­di­ver­sity and respect the ter­ri­tory in a truly sus­tain­able way. This also trans­lates into cre­at­ing beauty and har­mony, as well as aim­ing not at quan­tity but at qual­ity.”


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