Despite a challenging harvest season, producers, farmers and bottlers from across Greece combined to earn a total of 79 awards at the 2022 NYIOOC.
Part of our continuing special coverage of the 2022 NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition.
Entrants from Greece rejoiced in their second-best performance in the 2022 NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition, winning an impressive 79 awards (45 Gold and 34 Silver) from 142 entries.
In the previous edition of the competition, Greeks earned a record-high haul of 99 awards.
Our quest for a distinctive olive oil made us reconsider and redefine everything we knew about olive growing and olive oil production.
Olive oil producers, bottlers and exporters from across the country exceeded expectations in a harvest season burdened with weather extremes, high production costs and lower than usual yields in several olive oil-producing territories.
The initial projections of a reduced yield for the whole country were verified with a total of 225,000 tons of olive oil produced in the 2021/22 crop year, down by 50,000 tons from the 2020/21 production total.See Also:The Best Olive Oils from Greece
Even more, Greece was among the Mediterranean countries most severely hit by wildfires in August, suffering substantial losses in forest and agricultural capital.
Along with the hottest summer in decades which took its toll on the 2020/21 olive oil crop, the wildfires added another layer of hardship for a substantial yield to Greek producers.
Most impacted were those situated in western Peloponnese near Ancient Olympia and in northern Evia, where thousands of olive trees were damaged or turned to ashes by the blazes.
Greek producers measured up to the requirements winning multiple awards at NYIOOC, reaffirming the stature of the country’s olive oil sector, which accounts for almost 10 percent of the total value of the national agricultural production compared to 1 percent in other European olive oil-producing countries, as of 2018.
“It has been a difficult harvesting season,” Konstantinos Chantzopoulos, the digital communications manager at Olix Oil, told Olive Oil Times.
“The adverse weather, the prolonged drought and the wildfires have all left their mark on the olive oil production in Greece, and the unpropitious circumstances for the sector have been intensified by the pandemic aftermath and the ongoing war [in Ukraine],” he added.
However, a 100-percent success rate and three Gold Awards gave Olix Oil an excellent reason to celebrate a great showing at NYIOOC this year.
“We are grateful and extremely satisfied with the results because each bottle of ‘liquid gold’ we produce requires a lot of effort and passion for the generous Greek land,” Chantzopoulos said. “It is the perfect reward for our hard work and a motivation to keep producing products of premium quality, especially in the hard times we live in.”
The producer from Laconia was awarded for its Nate Premium, Koroneiki Premium and Ladelia Premium monovarietal extra virgin olive oils, all made from a medium Koroneiki.
Olix Oil has evolved into an international corporation always striving to meet the needs of consumers worldwide, aspiring to “make them know the Greek flavors… and be able to enjoy the benefits of the best diet in the world; the Mediterranean diet.”
Cretan producers, from one side of the island to the other, enjoyed another lustrous appearance at the 2022 NYIOOC, accounting for 15 awards from the country’s 79 awards.
Skoutari from Lasithi in eastern Crete is starting to form a vague, for the time being, winning streak in the competition, earning a Gold Award for its namesake monovarietal from Koroneiki for the second consecutive year.
“We are extremely happy that our extra virgin olive oil was awarded for the second time in a row in the most prestigious and demanding competition in the world,” co-owner Maria Sgourou told Olive Oil Times.
The company has been in the olive oil business since 2000 after taking over the family olive groves located between the villages of Kritsas and Kavousi. Its initial goal was to produce an olive oil unique for its flavor and healthy attributes.
“Our quest for a distinctive olive oil made us reconsider and redefine everything we knew about olive growing and olive oil production,” Sgourou said. “Since 2020, when our olive oil was bottled for the first time, every award we receive is a verification of our choices, and it propels us forward.”
Skoutari is a high-phenolic extra virgin olive oil bearing a health claim under the requirements of the E.U. regulation 432/2012.
Another Gold Award went to Androulakis Eftychios Olive Oil Bottling from the western Cretan province of Chania, an area that has constantly been producing NYIOOC winners over the years.
The producer was awarded for its Pamako Mountain Organic Blend, made from the Koroneiki and Tsounati varieties.
An established NYIOOC competitor already in its sixth year in the competition, the company has received multiple awards for its monovarietal and blended extra virgin olive oils.
“We are excited to win again at NYIOOC, and it is always a joy to receive a Gold Award in such a prestigious competition,” owner Eftychios Androulakis said. “We are always improving, and we are currently ahead of an expansion of our facilities and human capital while we remain focused on quality.”
Androulakis also anticipated a bountiful harvest in the region of Chania in the next crop year. He said that the flowering of the olive trees continues without significant problems so far, and the rainy winter of 2021/22 has filled the area’s natural subterranean reservoirs, creating the proper underlay for the trees to thrive.
Apart from returning competitors, first-time entrants from Greece were also crowned at the world’s largest olive oil quality contest.
The Peloponnesian Ootopia was successful in its first-ever participation in the competition receiving awards for all three of its entries.
The company won two Gold Awards for its namesake Manaki monovarietal and blend from Manaki and Koroneiki and a Silver Award for the organic Single Estate Iliokastro from Koroneiki.
“[We are] so, so proud,” said John Anairousis, the sales manager of Ootopia, after seeing the company’s vision to create a world-class estate able to produce exceptional olive oils getting on track.
“It was our first time in the prestigious NYIOOC competition, and we won two Gold and one Silver Award,” Anairousis added. “Ootopia leads the statistics since it is one of the few Greek brands to win three awards with equal entries.”
Achieving excellence was no easy task for Ootopia this season, adjusting to the challenges the erratic weather presented during harvest.
“The weather was hot and windy in our region,” Anairousis said. “We decided to harvest in two different timeframes in the day, early in the morning and late in the afternoon, to avoid high temperatures. This tactic offered us the crucial advantage of delivering our handpicked olives quickly and at the right temperature to the mill.”
Ootopia has built its privately-owned olive oil mill close to its olive groves of 3,500 olive trees in Ermioni in northeast Peloponnese, reducing the time between harvesting and processing of the olives for optimum results.
Olive trees of Italian and Spanish varieties also spring up in the company’s groves among trees of the Koroneiki variety, supporting the company’s motto of being ‘extra virgin olive oil perfectionists’ than ‘extra virgin olive oil nationalists.’
“The results [at the NYIOOC] justified our strategy,” Anairousis concluded, bursting with excitement. “We are so proud of our product, but more so of our people, our dedication, our vision.”