Part of our continuing special coverage of the 2023 NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition.
Olive oil producers from Istria, Croatia’s most famous olive-growing region, continue to win awards at the 2023 NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition.
Among the Istrian winners of the world’s largest olive oil quality competition are the producers at Uljara Vodnjan, who earned two Gold Awards for their Salvela Aurom and Punta Cisana brands.
The success is better than expected, but I am not surprised. Croatia does not have large quantities, but with good natural conditions, we grow olives with a lot of love.
“It was to be expected,” production technician and agronomist Edi Druzetić told Olive Oil Times. “We have top-quality oils, but the awards are always a pleasant surprise.”
For more than 40 years, he has been professionally and passionately engaged in olive growing.See Also:Producer Profiles
The Vodnjan olive grove is part of Agroprodukt, where Druzetić takes care of 12,000 olive trees of domestic and imported varieties on 45 hectares in Barbariga and Fažana.
The mill at Uljara Vodnjan is thought to be the oldest in Istria – possibly Croatia – but also equipped with state-of-the-art technology. The mill was built over 100 years ago and thoroughly renovated and modernized last year.
The new machines of increased capacity enable high-quality processing in a short period. “We can process up to three tons per hour,” Druzetić said.
Uljara Vodnjan produced 33,000 liters of extra virgin olive oil from the fruits of their olive groves using the traditional extraction method and also transformed 1,100 tons of other Istrian olive growers’ crops.
Along with primarily Istrian growers, a few came from the nearby Kvarner Islands, including Krk, to transform their olives at the mill.
“The season was good. The crop is above average,” Druzetić said. “The year was hot and dry, so the oils have a more pronounced bitterness with a little less fruitiness and aroma than usual.
He explained how Uljara Vodnjan produces its extra virgin olive oil, awarded 12 times by the NYIOOC since 2016.
“We take special care during harvesting and processing,” Druzetić said. “We strive to produce harmonious multi-varietal oils from domestic and imported varieties from our olive groves.”
“For the Salvela line, we use Buža, Rosinjola, Pisholena, Pendolin and Ascolana,” he added. “Punta Cisana is made exclusively from four domestic varieties: Buža, Rosinjola, Plominka and Puntoža, from trees that are 200 years old or more.”
Druzetić said Croatian extra virgin olive oils are winning more awards than he expected at the NYIOOC but added that he is not surprised.
“The success is better than expected, but I am not surprised,” he said. “Croatia does not have large quantities, but with good natural conditions, we grow olives with a lot of love.”
He attributes the rising success of the sector to the professionalization of agrotechnical measures, including pruning, protection, fertilization, harvesting and transformation.
Druzetić added that Croatians also enjoy competition, citing the 90 awards won from 128 entries to date in the NYIOOC, which runs through April.
To date, Croatian producers have won the second most awards at the competition, which received 1,083 entries from 29 countries and states. Only producers from Italy have won more, with 140 awards.