Master Miller in Istria Explains His Sustained Success at World Competition

Edi Druzetić says a state-of-the-art mill, quick harvest and carefully balanced blends are the secrets to Uljara Vodnjan’s success at the NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition.
By Nedjeljko Jusup
Apr. 21, 2023 11:50 UTC

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.- Edi Druzetić, pro­duc­tion tech­ni­cian, Uljara Vodnjan

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.


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