In Rio Grande do Sul, Award-Winning Production Means Preparing for the Unexpected

While the Capoani family diligently prepares for the harvest, their fate is largely tied to the weather.
Photo: Capolivo
By Paolo DeAndreis
Dec. 8, 2022 14:14 UTC

A sunny and breezy por­tion of the green hills of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil’s south­ern­most state, is home to dozens of hectares of olive trees planted and grown by the Capoani fam­ily.

As a result of the fam­i­ly’s farm­ing expe­ri­ence and entre­pre­neur­ial spirit, along with this unique loca­tion, their Capolivo brands have become some of the most awarded extra vir­gin olive oils in Brazil.

We always try to be pre­pared to deal with the sur­prises of the cli­mate.- Joice Capoani, mar­ket­ing direc­tor, Capolivo

Capolivo earned three Gold Awards and a Silver Award at the 2022 NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition, the world’s largest olive oil qual­ity com­pe­ti­tion. Previously, the fam­ily earned two awards at the 2021 NYIOOC.

Originally from an indus­trial back­ground, the Capoani fam­ily grad­u­ally moved into agribusi­ness, adding cat­tle and refor­esta­tion projects to their other busi­ness activ­i­ties. More recently, the idea of grow­ing olive trees took root among the fam­ily mem­bers and became their next agri­cul­tural ven­ture.

See Also:Producer Profiles

The inter­est in olive trees and olive oil goes back a long way in the Capoani fam­ily,” Joice Capoani, Capolivo’s com­mer­cial and mar­ket­ing direc­tor, told Olive Oil Times.

My father, Jandir, grand­son of Italians and pas­sion­ate about cook­ing, was always enthu­si­as­tic and con­fi­dent about the pos­si­bil­ity of pro­duc­ing olive oil,” she added. And so, in 2012, we planted a small area of olive trees to test the idea.”

After the olive farm­ing trial began, the fam­ily trav­eled to Italy and Spain to learn which cul­ti­vars would be best suited to the bio­di­ver­sity-rich for­est and farm­land of the region, located approx­i­mately 100 kilo­me­ters south of Porto Alegre.

These trips always were per­ceived as cru­cial for the com­pany by my father,” Capoani said. He was always keen to learn from the expe­ri­ences of olive oil pro­duc­ers, which I was also able to fol­low closely.”

In addi­tion to Italy, he also went to Spain to fur­ther deepen his knowl­edge of the cul­ti­va­tion of olive trees and the pro­duc­tion of olive oil,” she added.

The enthu­si­asm was grow­ing, and so did the com­mit­ment and the will­ing­ness to make it a suc­cess,” Capoani con­tin­ued. In 2019, we had our first com­mer­cial har­vest. From then on, olive oil pro­duc­tion became cen­tral to our fam­ily inter­ests.”

Today, the fam­ily man­ages 120 hectares of olive trees, which add to the more than 3,000 hectares of pines the fam­ily planted in its refor­esta­tion efforts.

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After study­ing the cul­ti­vars that would work best in Rio Grande do Sul, the fam­ily decided to plant Arbequina, Arbosana, Picual, Coratina and Koroneiki.

We chose these vari­eties because we knew they were com­pat­i­ble with Rio Grande do Sul’s cli­mate,” said Capoani, adding that Arbequina and Koroneiki have so far adopted the best.

Cultivar adap­ta­tion and their abil­ity to with­stand cli­matic uncer­tain­ties have been the fam­i­ly’s biggest chal­lenges. Rio Grande do Sul has a sub-trop­i­cal tem­per­ate cli­mate, with aver­age pre­cip­i­ta­tion exceed­ing 1,000 mil­lime­ters through­out the year.

Temperatures tend to be mild, with the warmest months rarely exceed­ing 25 °C and the cold­est usu­ally remain­ing above 6° C. Oceanic air masses also bring a sus­tained breeze and strong winds through most of the region.

However, Capoani said she has noticed a change in the local cli­mate over the years. With each year, the cli­matic oscil­la­tions become more unpre­dictable, and the sea­sons mix,” she said. Therefore, the cli­mate is and remains one of the major deter­mi­nants for our pro­duc­tion and all olive oil pro­duc­ers in our region.”

To date, prepa­ra­tions for the next har­vest are tak­ing place as planned,” Capoani added. Because we depend directly on the cli­matic con­di­tions for the suc­cess of the har­vest, we always try to be pre­pared to deal with the sur­prises of the cli­mate, such as the cold front that is expected in the com­ing weeks amid the flow­er­ing in the spring.”

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Producing high-qual­ity extra vir­gin olive oil has been the fam­i­ly’s pri­mary goal since they planted the first olive trees.

We com­mit to each step of our crop, from plant­ing to main­tain­ing a healthy and com­pat­i­ble soil,” she said. Our work is strictly pro­fes­sional and atten­tive to the expected growth of our olive trees. We mon­i­tor the flow­er­ing respon­si­bly and fol­low the growth of the fruits until the har­vest, apply­ing our know-how and qual­ity stan­dards.”

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The fam­ily employs an agro­nomic engi­neer and an olive grow­ing con­sul­tant to sat­isfy those stan­dards. They ensure that all our work is exe­cuted respon­si­bly, from plant­ing to flow­er­ing and har­vest­ing,” Capoani said.

While some indus­trial chal­lenges remain con­sis­tent, such as the high costs of invest­ments and pro­duc­tion, one of the most sig­nif­i­cant areas for the com­pany to work on is con­sumer aware­ness about extra vir­gin olive oil, which Capoani believes is lag­ging in Brazil.

She explained that most con­sumers in Brazil are accus­tomed to buy­ing cheaper olive oils in the super­mar­ket, and many remain hes­i­tant to pay higher prices for locally-pro­duced extra vir­gin olive oil.

However, Capoani added that the NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition helps the top Brazilian pro­duc­ers stand out, increas­ing the qual­ity and value of their prod­ucts.

Thus, given that Brazil’s high-qual­ity pro­duc­tion is grow­ing, it is nec­es­sary to work to evolve the approach of the con­sumer,” she said.

In the future, the Capoani fam­ily plans to begin har­vest­ing their new Frantoio and Ascolana trees and begin con­vert­ing all of their olive groves to organic farm­ing pro­to­cols.


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