In Puglia, Producers at Mimì Pursue Excellence Through Innovation and Research

Donato and Michele Conserva produce award-winning extra virgin olive oils from century-old trees using the latest technology at their family mill.
Mimi mill and grove
By Ylenia Granitto
May. 13, 2021 11:40 UTC

It all started from a dream,” Donato Conserva told Olive Oil Times. Our father Domenico, known by all as Mimì, had an olive grove and he dreamt of some­day open­ing his own olive mill.”

Taking up his legacy, Donato and his brother Michele became the pro­duc­ers of pre­mium extra vir­gin olive oils, includ­ing Mimì, Mimì Coratina and Mimì Peranzana, all of which have earned numer­ous awards at the NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition.

We carry out exper­i­men­ta­tion on every aspect of pro­duc­tion… We can say that every har­vest sea­son, our mill becomes an exper­i­men­tal lab.- Donato Conserva, award-win­ning pro­ducer

A renowned trans­port oper­a­tor, Mimì devoted his free time to the olive trees, rely­ing on the local facil­i­ties to press the fruits.

The oil was a gift for his cus­tomers who really appre­ci­ated that,” Conserva said. Sadly, he passed away too soon. We found our­selves at a cross­roads: to sell the land and devote our efforts to the trans­port com­pany or to carry on his plan and pro­duce our own extra vir­gin olive oil.”

See Also:Producer Profiles

With the sup­port of their mother, Giuditta, the two broth­ers decided to focus on the land and later estab­lished their mill.

Designed with large glass win­dows that allow vis­i­tors to see the whole pro­duc­tion process, the build­ing is har­mo­niously nes­tled at the heart of a 75-hectare prop­erty with 23,000 trees of sev­eral vari­eties.

Ogliarola barese, Coratina, Peranzana, Cima di Melfi and Nocellara del Belice trees, many of which are a cen­tury old, are located on rolling hills between Modugno and the sur­round­ing vil­lages in the province of Bari, not far from the Adriatic coast.


Michele and Donato Conserva

Our work is focused mainly on mono­va­ri­etals,” Conserva said. We man­aged to reach high lev­els of qual­ity thanks to a care­ful selec­tion of fruits and an ad hoc milling process for each vari­ety.”

The olives, col­lected with the help of mechan­i­cal har­vesters, are crushed a cou­ple of hours after har­vest­ing in the mill, which boasts cut­ting-edge tech­nol­ogy and an energy-sav­ing sys­tem.

It con­sists of two types of machin­ery, one of which is sup­plied with a ver­ti­cal malaxer, which reduces the extrac­tion times and pre­vents time and tem­per­a­ture from neg­a­tively affect­ing the prod­uct.

We pay spe­cial atten­tion to these aspects,” Conserva said. The oil under­goes imme­di­ate and direct fil­tra­tion with­out going through the sep­a­ra­tor. Then, we store it in stain­less steel tanks under nitro­gen to ensure opti­mal con­ser­va­tion.”

Every year, a part of the bud­get is allo­cated to tech­ni­cal adjust­ments of the milling equip­ment. Periodically, we make small changes to improve the pro­duc­tion process,” Conserva said.

This con­stant updat­ing allowed them to achieve their qual­ity objec­tives and pro­duced out­stand­ing results, even in dif­fi­cult sea­sons.


The mill at Mimi

We can count on an irri­ga­tion sys­tem that helped in times of drought,” Conserva said. However, in the last years, we have noticed an early flow­er­ing that pushed us to antic­i­pate the har­vest.”

Taking this into account, the last sea­son was great,” he added. From our point of view, it was even bet­ter than the pre­vi­ous one, since some hectares of trees recently planted finally went into full pro­duc­tion.”

Nonetheless, the increas­ing pro­duc­tion trend in this part of Puglia was bol­stered by favor­able weather con­di­tions, unlike other parts of the region. Over the last two years, the typ­i­cally Mediterranean cli­mate of the orchards did not suf­fer from dra­matic swings, Conserva explained.


Ours is not only a qual­ity work but also a research work,” he said. We are col­lab­o­rat­ing with researchers from the Polyclinic of Bari, who con­duct stud­ies on the nutraceu­ti­cal prop­er­ties of extra vir­gin olive oil with a high polyphe­nol con­tent and their ben­e­fits to the gas­troin­testi­nal sys­tem thanks to their anti-inflam­ma­tory, pre­ven­tive prop­er­ties.”

Great results in this sense have been achieved with our Coratina, which proves to be a source of health with an impres­sive organolep­tic pro­file,” Conserva added.

This mono­va­ri­etal owes its suc­cess at the NYIOOC to an intense fruiti­ness, which is rich and envelop­ing, with hints of olive leaf and arti­choke accom­pa­nied by ele­gant spicy notes. In the mouth, pow­er­ful veg­e­tal notes of leafy veg­eta­bles are com­bined with fresh almond and wild chicory, fol­lowed by an after­taste of this­tle. Bitterness and pun­gency are firm yet har­mo­nious.

We carry out exper­i­men­ta­tion on every aspect of pro­duc­tion,” Conserva said. With the Polytechnic University of Bari, we con­ducted extrac­tion tests with ultra­sounds. We can say that every har­vest sea­son, our mill becomes an exper­i­men­tal lab.”

Our efforts are aimed at trea­sur­ing the expe­ri­ence gained in the field and the mill, year after year, and try­ing to obtain a prod­uct of extreme excel­lence at all lev­els,” he con­tin­ued. I truly believe that the olive oil sec­tor still has a lot to give in terms of qual­ity.”

We are among those oil millers who, in recent years, have con­stantly been striv­ing to dis­cover what the olive tree can still offer,” Conserva added. We are well on track, but I am con­vinced that there is still a lot to do.”

We do this dri­ven by a strong com­mit­ment based on the value of respect for the cus­tomer,” he con­cluded. Needless to say, at the root of our job also lies the love and respect for our ter­ri­tory. When you taste our extra vir­gin olive oils, you can feel the aro­mas and fla­vors of our beau­ti­ful land.”


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