Sicilian and Sardinian Growers Triumph in World Competition

The judges acknowledged the results of a growing organic approach and an established know-how from producers on Italy’s two largest islands.

Antonello and Alessandro Fois with their late father Giuseppe
By Paolo DeAndreis
Jul. 19, 2022 08:58 UTC
Antonello and Alessandro Fois with their late father Giuseppe

Part of our con­tin­u­ing spe­cial cov­er­age of the 2022 NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition.

Dozens of Gold and Silver Awards from the 2022 NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition have gone to olive oil pro­duc­ers on the Mediterranean islands of Sicily and Sardinia.

Both islands boast a unique loca­tion, cli­mate, and mil­len­nia-old olive grow­ing tra­di­tions. Sardinia and Sicily are also home to some of the old­est olive trees in the Mediterranean.

The award has pro­foundly impacted our suc­cess in the U.S. mar­ket. We are taken more seri­ously, we are val­i­dated imme­di­ately, and we have been able to attain dis­tri­b­u­tion thanks to NYIOOC.- Salvatore Russo-Tiesi, pres­i­dent and CEO, Bono USA

Local cui­sine fre­quently incor­po­rates olive oil, with scores of fam­i­lies tra­di­tion­ally involved in olive oil pro­duc­tion.

The many awards won by Sicilians and Sardinians acknowl­edge and con­firm the high qual­ity of some of the most rel­e­vant extra vir­gin olive oil pro­duc­tion in the world. Local pro­duc­ers attribute the par­tic­u­lar pro­file of their olive oils to the rich bio­di­ver­sity of the islands.

See Also:Best Olive Oils From Italy

More than 30 dif­fer­ent olive tree cul­ti­vars have been iden­ti­fied in Sicily alone. The island is respon­si­ble for approx­i­mately 10 per­cent of Italian olive oil pro­duc­tion, with around 700 olive millers in its ter­ri­tory. The olive oil pro­duc­tion chain involves more than 100,000 com­pa­nies.

One of our win­ning extra vir­gin olive oils comes from Biancolilla Centinara, a cul­ti­var we have man­aged to recover, as it risked extinc­tion,” Pasquale Marino, CEO and sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy chief at Bona Furtuna, told Olive Oil Times.


Furtuna Estate

It comes from our research project into pre­serv­ing ancient olive vari­eties,” he added. We are the only ones today grow­ing this cul­ti­var. We have so many cul­ti­vars in Sicily that some­times we risk not see­ing how unique they are.”

Bona Furtuna, whose organic groves are located in the hilly heart of west­ern Sicily, earned three Gold Awards at the 2022 NYIOOC from its three entries.

We are very happy with the awards in New York. It is not the first time we have won Gold Awards there, which is extra­or­di­nary con­sid­er­ing that Bona Furtuna is a very young com­pany,” Marino said. For us, New York is a rel­e­vant bridge to the American and inter­na­tional mar­kets.”

Steep slopes in the shade of Mount Etna, Europe’s tallest active vol­cano in east­ern Sicily, helped the suc­cess of Vincenzo Signorelli Olivicoltore. The pro­ducer won a Gold Award in its first entry into com­pe­ti­tion with a mono­va­ri­etal.


Photo: Vincenzo Signorelli Olivicoltore

Enzo Signorelli, the farm’s owner, told Olive Oil Times what it means to grow olives in a beau­ti­ful land­scape which is also a very chal­leng­ing ter­ri­tory.

We were very happy to learn of the award,” he said.​”​Such a pres­ti­gious win helps us to give value to our extra vir­gin olive oils. And the com­pe­ti­tion also con­tributes to rais­ing con­sumer aware­ness.”

We work with an organic approach, respect­ing the envi­ron­ment and there­fore incur­ring higher costs,” Signorelli added. All tasks are done by hand, as using machin­ery would impact the ter­ri­tory and lead to a loss of bio­di­ver­sity. Here, we are grow­ers of bio­di­ver­sity.”

He said that his extra vir­gin olive oil stands out as a result of using the lat­est tech­niques and tech­nolo­gies cou­pled with the unique envi­ron­ment on the slopes of Mount Etna.

In the ancient groves on the slopes of the moun­tain, between 400 and 700 meters above sea level, lichen-cov­ered lava stones pro­tect the olive trees and cre­ate nat­ural pas­sages for water when rain­fall sets in,” Signorelli said.


In these areas, the farm is also recov­er­ing aban­doned groves.

This hap­pened with our mono­va­ri­etal,” Signorelli said. In a con­text of heroic agri­cul­ture, with ter­races built on lava and unique bio­di­ver­sity, we do not mold; we just cut grass four times a year as the grass itself is a fer­til­izer for the soil thanks to the micro­fauna that it nur­tures.”

Many used to plant field beans in the grove, but we pre­fer our native legu­mi­nous. In addi­tion, we have clover, aspara­gus, prickly pears, aro­matic herbs, recov­ered almond trees, wild olive trees, pis­ta­chios, field herbs and mush­rooms,” he added. Everything com­mu­ni­cates with the olive trees, and the sci­en­tific results show that our soil is in way bet­ter con­di­tions than soil that under­goes tra­di­tional treat­ments.”

Situated in Sciacca, Sicily’s other lead­ing olive oil-pro­duc­ing region, Bono earned three Gold Awards and a Silver Award.

It is an honor to be named a top extra vir­gin olive oil pro­ducer by the most pres­ti­gious com­pe­ti­tion in the world,”​said Salvatore Russo-Tiesi, pres­i­dent and CEO of Bono USA. This acco­lade brings great legit­i­macy to our brand and val­i­dates our hard work.

We are proud of our work as pro­duc­ers,” he added. The award has pro­foundly impacted our suc­cess in the U.S. mar­ket. We are taken more seri­ously, we are val­i­dated imme­di­ately, and we have been able to attain dis­tri­b­u­tion thanks to NYIOOC.”

According to Bono, some rea­sons for the suc­cess at the com­pe­ti­tion lie in the unique ter­ri­tory.

Our prod­uct is made from Sicilian olive vari­etals,” Russo-Tiesi said. They are unique and inim­itable. The vol­canic soil, scirocco winds and the micro­cli­mates of Sicily cre­ate an olive vari­etal and, in turn, olive oil that is medium bal­anced, del­i­cate, and sweet. It is not a bit­ter, heavy extra vir­gin olive oil that would be seen as too strong or too bold for the American palate.”

Producers in Sardinia have also earned numer­ous awards at the 2022 NYIOOC. Among them was Accademia Olearia, which earned a Gold Award and Silver Award.


Photo: Accademia Olearia

Located on the coast of west­ern Sardinia, the extra vir­gin olive oil pro­ducer has con­sis­tently won awards at the NYIOOC.

Such awards rep­re­sent our trib­ute to this ter­ri­tory, rich in his­tory and tra­di­tion, whose pas­sion and feel­ings we proudly share through our prod­ucts,” Antonello and Alessandro Fois, co-own­ers of the com­pany and fourth-gen­er­a­tion olive grow­ers, told Olive Oil Times.

Among the rea­sons that brought the Gran Riserva Giuseppe Fois into the spot­light was the highly selec­tive choice of olive dru­pes.

It rep­re­sents the max­i­mum qual­ity expres­sion of Accademia Olearia prod­ucts,” the Fois said. It is pro­duced in lim­ited quan­ti­ties using only the best olives from spe­cific groves where dif­fer­ent native cul­ti­vars are grown.”

The result, they explained, is an olive oil with very high sen­sory attrib­utes, the aro­mas of the olive meet with those of the golden apple and tomato leaf, yield­ing an extra vir­gin olive oil of great bal­ance between bit­ter and spicy.”

This year’s unique oils on Sardinia came after a sea­son that did not bring record vol­umes of olives but ensured a high qual­ity of the dru­pes.

The cur­rent sea­son will not be remem­bered as the most abun­dant ever, given the heat­wave we are expe­ri­enc­ing, but we still look for a high-qual­ity extra vir­gin olive oil that will come out of it,” the Fois added.

However, the cou­ple added that it is a chal­leng­ing period for high-qual­ity pro­duc­ers.

For sure, our times do not help agri­cul­ture. Farmers are pressed by a con­tin­u­ous rise in the prices of raw mate­ri­als, energy costs, machin­ery and field oper­a­tion,” the Fois con­cluded. These are the most rel­e­vant chal­lenges we face in our quest for extremely high qual­ity.”

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