New Generation in Ancient Olympia Introduces Award-Winning Products to The World

The Karabelas brothers offer a unique tourist destination, award-winning quality and plenty of enthusiasm.

Alexis (left) and Fancesco Karabelas with their mother Franca Magrini
By Costas Vasilopoulos
Jun. 26, 2023 16:13 UTC
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Alexis (left) and Fancesco Karabelas with their mother Franca Magrini

In the west­ern Peloponnese, just a stone’s throw from Ancient Olympia, the birth­place of the Olympic Games and a sacred land to all Greeks, a local pro­ducer works to reach a global audi­ence.

Run by broth­ers Alexis and Francesco Karabelas, award-win­ning AMG Karabelas makes the most of the land, the area’s ancient her­itage and the two broth­ers’ deter­mi­na­tion to pro­duce world-class olive oil.

The pan­demic had a cat­alytic effect on us since we closed down for a whole year, and we were able to orga­nize bet­ter and exe­cute our plan.- Alexis Karabelas, co-owner, AMG Karabelas

The land here is very fer­tile,” Alexis Karabelas told Olive Oil Times. It is no won­der that a lot of agri­cul­tural prod­ucts pro­duced here are exported world­wide. There is great poten­tial, but only a few well-orga­nized efforts from local pro­duc­ers.”

In 2015, the Karabelas broth­ers returned from their uni­ver­si­ties to their home­land to pur­sue their dream of pro­duc­ing high-qual­ity extra vir­gin olive oil from fam­ily-owned olive groves.

See Also:Producer Profiles

Our fam­ily has been in the agri­tourism busi­ness since 2008,” Karabelas said. Our par­ents Dimitris and Franca envi­sioned offer­ing the vis­i­tors to the nearby Olympia archae­o­log­i­cal site a taste of locally made prod­ucts, includ­ing wine, home­made mar­malade and olive oil.”

They were suc­cess­ful from the out­set, with their small estab­lish­ment teem­ing with thou­sands of tourists each year,” he added.

The two broth­ers employed the fam­ily wis­dom and expe­ri­ence in cul­ti­vat­ing olive trees and olive oil pro­duc­tion from the pre­vi­ous four gen­er­a­tions. They also attended sem­i­nars on olive oil tast­ing and mas­tered the mod­ern tech­niques of olive oil pro­duc­tion.

Being quick on the uptake, they quickly acquired the nec­es­sary knowl­edge to care­fully plan their steps into the olive oil busi­ness.

The first thing to do was to turn the fam­ily olive groves organic,” Karabelas said. We also designed and built our state-of-the-art olive oil mill com­pletely from scratch.”

profiles-the-best-olive-oils-production-europe-new-generation-in-ancient-olympia-introduces-awardwinning-products-to-the-world-olive-oil-times

The groves and state-of-the-art-mill behind AMG Karabelas’ award-winning olive oil

AMG Karabelas was born in 2020, amid the Covid-19 pan­demic, aim­ing to intro­duce peo­ple world­wide to high-qual­ity extra vir­gin olive oil from the fruit­ful land of Ancient Olympia.

We wanted to make our olive oil avail­able every­where in the world,” Karabelas added. The pan­demic had a cat­alytic effect on us since we closed down for a whole year, and we were able to orga­nize bet­ter and exe­cute our plan. On the other hand, it was very hard to come by con­struc­tion work­ers and build­ing mate­ri­als due to the restric­tions imposed.”

Complemented by Magna Grecia, the Karabelas broth­ers’ oleo­tourism busi­ness, AMG Karabelas boasts a vari­ety of activ­i­ties avail­able to those look­ing to indulge in a jour­ney in the world of olive oil.

We offer our guests a first-hand expe­ri­ence of how olive oil is pro­duced through guided tours,” Karabelas said. They can visit our mill and attend a video sim­u­la­tion on how olive har­vest­ing is done. But if they visit us dur­ing har­vest, they can expe­ri­ence the real thing. And, of course, no tour is com­pleted with­out tast­ing our olive oils.”.

The Karabelas broth­ers grow 6,000 olive trees of the Koroneiki, Kolireiki and Kalamon vari­eties stretch­ing between the Olympia archae­o­log­i­cal site and the mighty Alfeios River, the largest river on the Peloponnese penin­sula. However, the local Tsabidoelia olive vari­ety has always had a spe­cial mean­ing for the broth­ers.

The local cul­ti­var won a Gold Award for the com­pany at the 2023 NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition for the Laurel and Flame Fresh extra vir­gin made from early har­vested Tsabidoelia olives.

Tsabidoelia is start­ing to take the place it deserves among Greek olive vari­eties,” Karabelas said. The sat­is­fac­tion we get gives us the strength to con­tinue our hard work.”

profiles-the-best-olive-oils-production-europe-new-generation-in-ancient-olympia-introduces-awardwinning-products-to-the-world-olive-oil-times

AMG Karabelas takes advantage of its location near a popular tourism destination to promote oleotourism.

AMG Karabelas earned its other Gold Award for the Flame Olympia PGI blend from Koroneiki and Kolireiki olives, enabling the com­pany to repeat its suc­cess in the 2022 com­pe­ti­tion with two Gold Awards from two entries.

The New York com­pe­ti­tion is the great­est olive oil com­pe­ti­tion in the world,” added Karabelas, who went on to explain the impor­tance of par­tic­i­pat­ing in the NYIOOC for the com­pany.

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Most of our guests look­ing to enjoy a pure oleo­tourism expe­ri­ence come from the United States,” he said. Over the years, we have cre­ated a unique olive oil club of American cus­tomers who expect their olive oil to be deliv­ered to their doorsteps each year.”

So, in a way, we felt com­pelled to par­tic­i­pate in the com­pe­ti­tion, firstly to honor our American cus­tomers by exhibit­ing the qual­ity of our olive oils and to be able to enter new mar­kets,” Karabelas added.

It is no secret that our exclu­sive sales rep­re­sen­ta­tive for the Northern American mar­ket was able to track us down through the NYIOOC,” he added.

In the fam­ily groves, every­thing per­tain­ing to grow­ing the olive trees and har­vest­ing the olives is metic­u­lously pro­grammed and planned to fit the high stan­dards of olive oil pro­duc­tion the com­pany has put for­ward.

We are totally organic,” Karabelas said. We also only use bat­tery-oper­ated equip­ment for har­vest­ing to avoid con­t­a­m­i­na­tion of the olives from inter­nal com­bus­tion engines and min­eral oil hydro­car­bons. The byprod­ucts from the har­vest — small branches and twigs — are ground on-site and incor­po­rated into the soil. ”

Another arrow in the company’s quiver is installing a net­work of micro­cli­matic sta­tions in the olive groves to record and trans­mit essen­tial data.

Karabelas said that var­i­ous infor­ma­tion, includ­ing air tem­per­a­ture and humid­ity, soil humid­ity and salin­ity, and a read­ing of the total dis­solved solids in the soil, is read­ily avail­able daily.

profiles-the-best-olive-oils-production-europe-new-generation-in-ancient-olympia-introduces-awardwinning-products-to-the-world-olive-oil-times

AMG Karabelas grow local Koroneiki, Kolireiki, Kalamon and Tsabidoelia olives.

All these data enable us to reduce the use of organic fer­til­iz­ers and save on water by water­ing the trees only when needed,” he noted.

Strict pro­duc­tion pro­to­cols are also fol­lowed dur­ing the pro­cess­ing of the olives at the fam­ily-owned mill.

We have installed the most mod­ern lines of equip­ment for pro­cess­ing olives and bot­tling olive oil,” Karabelas said. The olives are processed within three to four hours from arrival, and the pro­duced olive oil is fil­tered and stored in stain­less steel tanks capped with inert gas. In advance, all the required pack­ag­ing pro­ce­dures take place in the mill.”

In addi­tion, every bot­tle of extra vir­gin olive oil the com­pany sells car­ries a QR code to explain the his­tory of the oil to the con­sumers.

We decided to imple­ment the code after sens­ing the uncer­tainty of our vis­i­tors from all over the world regard­ing olive oil,” Karabelas said. It also con­tains recipes, food pair­ing sug­ges­tions and, more impor­tantly, infor­ma­tive arti­cles to help con­sumers avoid being mis­led when buy­ing olive oil.”

Expansion plans are on the table for AMG Karabelas, with the broth­ers look­ing to expand their range of prod­ucts beyond olive oil.

We want to cre­ate a mul­ti­func­tional estate,” Karabelas said. We plan to build a win­ery next to our olive mill and step into the world of essen­tial oils pro­duc­tion. We also envi­sion set­ting up an asso­ci­a­tion of local olive grow­ers and build­ing a solid, long-term rela­tion­ship with them.”

Of course, Ancient Olympia is by itself the strongest brand name around, draw­ing in thou­sands of peo­ple each year,” he added. We hope to be able to live up to the glo­ri­ous her­itage of our place.”


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