History and Terroir Guide Award-Winning Producer in Puglia

More than a century of olive oil production experience allowed the families behind Olio Mazzone to overcome a highly challenging season to triumph at the 2023 NYIOOC.

(Photo: Olio Mazzone)
By Paolo DeAndreis
May. 9, 2023 15:43 UTC
(Photo: Olio Mazzone)

The impacts of cli­mate change and chal­leng­ing mar­ket con­di­tions have not ham­pered the efforts of Apulian pro­ducer Olio Mazzone to craft award-win­ning extra vir­gin olive oil.

Against all odds, its Coratina mono­va­ri­etal recently won a Gold Award at the NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition for the fourth time in a row.

This is a con­fir­ma­tion that the most beau­ti­ful things in life come at a cost, that the most beau­ti­ful things hap­pen through sac­ri­fice.- Giuseppe Campanale, owner, Olio Mazzone

We had such a dif­fi­cult sea­son that win­ning the Gold Award once again came as a sur­prise to us,” owner and miller Giuseppe Campanale told Olive Oil Times. We had to cope with weather extremes, the drought and olive fruit fly infes­ta­tions. All of this came cou­pled with a lower olive yield.”

According to Campanale, the company’s con­sis­tent suc­cess is rooted in his­tory and learned expe­ri­ence.

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Experience is what makes you choose the best olives, to look at the olive trees and choose the ones you want to get the high­est qual­ity from,” he said.

Since 1920 and over four gen­er­a­tions, the Mazzone-Campanale fam­ily remained focused on olive oil pro­duc­tion through chal­leng­ing times, includ­ing World War II.

These expe­ri­ences come from a life spent in an area largely char­ac­ter­ized by olives,” he said. Here, in Ruvo di Puglia, we are about 25,000 res­i­dents, and all fam­i­lies here have olive trees. We talk of olives and olive oil; we all have a broad under­stand­ing of qual­ity.”

Not far from Bari, olive trees thrive on Ruvo di Puglia’s hills and gen­tle slopes, char­ac­ter­ized by mod­er­ate tem­per­a­tures and medium winds com­ing from the sea, ten kilo­me­ters away.

The Campanale fam­ily man­ages two small lots of olive trees, with about 1,000 trees spread over four hectares.


Historical photo of the olive harvest at Olio Mazzone

According to Campanale, the soil has an excep­tional pro­file cru­cial to pro­duc­ing high-qual­ity extra vir­gin olive oil.

I know that there are many areas where grow­ing olives might be incred­i­bly chal­leng­ing,” he said. Over here, instead, we are blessed with the per­fect soil for the Coratina olive trees, a cul­ti­var that expresses itself very well in the area.”

Our olive trees have to cope with rocky land, which makes it harder to absorb nutri­ents,” Campanale added. However, the rocky soil is also well-drained, pre­vent­ing some com­mon dis­eases asso­ci­ated with stag­nant ground­wa­ter from spread­ing.

They can over­come those chal­lenges and thrive in these con­di­tions that make our Coratina olives excep­tional,” he said.

According to the Apulian pro­ducer, there is a direct cor­re­la­tion between qual­ity and the abil­ity of the trees to over­come such hard­ships and sus­tain their growth.

Nothing good comes from too much com­fort,” Campanale said. You might have sig­nif­i­cant olive yields if you have irri­gated and fer­tile olive orchards. But if you are search­ing for that spe­cial qual­ity from the olive, this is not where one should look.”

This is a con­fir­ma­tion that the most beau­ti­ful things in life come at a cost, that the most beau­ti­ful things hap­pen through sac­ri­fice,” he added.


Campanale noted how his goal for the sea­son was to pro­duce about 1,000 liters of the spe­cial high-qual­ity extra vir­gin olive oil awarded in New York.

The win­ning olive oil is medium fruity with a per­sis­tent green aroma,” he said. One of its char­ac­ter­is­tics is the per­fect bal­ance of bit­ter and piquant. Sometimes in Coratina mono­va­ri­etals, you might find a dom­i­nat­ing bit­ter note, but not in our case.”


Giacomo Mazzone

That is not the sole pro­duc­tion of the Campanale fam­ily, though. Besides their olive trees, the fam­ily con­tin­ues offer­ing olive milling ser­vices to the many small local pro­duc­ers. That is what our fam­ily did for more than a cen­tury,” Campanale said.

Thanks to the mem­o­ries of my father’s aunt, Nunzia Mazzone, who was still with us 10 years ago, we know that between 1920 and 1922, her father, Tommaso Mazzone, opened the mill,” he added.

It was a press with mules used to make the grinders crush the olives,” Campanale con­tin­ued. Those were times when olive oil and water would be sep­a­rated by adding hot water so the olive oil would come to the sur­face and be col­lected.”

Over the decades, the mill closed down sev­eral times, but the fam­ily always found a way to revive it, even after the clo­sure due to World War II.

After many dif­fi­cult years, in 1960, Gino Mazzone took the reins of the olive mill. Then, in 1967, a major tech­no­log­i­cal over­haul sig­nalled a new begin­ning for the Mazzone-Campanale fam­ily and their milling activ­i­ties.

Campanale said two decades later, the fam­ily went through a very chal­leng­ing period, with the sub­se­quent deaths of sev­eral rel­a­tives, includ­ing Gino. For two years, the Mazzone olive mill closed shop,” he said.

However, In 1991, Gino’s only nephew, Giacomo, built a new mill in Ruvo, which he named Mazzone Olive Oil Mill. Giacomo knew of the many events the fam­ily had gone through and was aware of Gino’s sac­ri­fices; he did not want that fam­ily tra­di­tion to dis­ap­pear,” Campanale said.

I grew up in this world,” he added. When I was a kid, the olive har­vest was a truly sig­nif­i­cant moment for the com­mu­nity to gather and cel­e­brate our trees.”

At the time, when small olive pro­duc­ers came to the mill, we all knew the value of those olives,” Camapnale con­cluded. We all knew the sac­ri­fices and the hard­ships that these peo­ple went through before the har­vest. The olives were as pre­cious as their mem­o­ries.”

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