Tradition, Technology Yield Winning Results for Southern Italian Producers

Producers from Puglia, Basilicata, Calabria and Campania overcame extreme weather, drought and pests to win awards at the World Competition.

(Photo: Albori)
By Paolo DeAndreis
May. 4, 2023 00:40 UTC
(Photo: Albori)

The resilience of south­ern Italian olive grow­ers has again been con­firmed at the NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition.

Dozens of pro­duc­ers from Puglia, Basilicata, Calabria and Campania over­came weather extremes and drought dur­ing the 2022/23 crop year to win the indus­try’s most cov­eted awards at the annual olive oil qual­ity com­pe­ti­tion.

Producers from Puglia were among the biggest win­ners from south­ern Italy, which is far from sur­pris­ing since it is the country’s most sig­nif­i­cant olive oil-pro­duc­ing region.

See Also:The Best EVOOs From Italy

“[These awards are] an excel­lent result that rewards the qual­ity and the undis­puted value of our olive oil pro­duc­tion,” Donato Pentassuglia, Puglia’s sec­re­tary of agri­cul­ture, told Olive Oil Times.

Alluding to the dozens of Gold and Silver Awards won by Apulian olive oil pro­duc­ers, Pentassuglia said the wins make me very proud, both as an Apulian cit­i­zen and as regional sec­re­tary of this extra­or­di­nary food sec­tor.”

The results that we achieve are proof of how vital the olive sec­tor is, despite the cli­matic, phy­topatho­log­i­cal and eco­nomic dif­fi­cul­ties that are putting a strain on the resilience of the entire sec­tor,” he added.

We owe [these awards] to the work of our com­pa­nies, to their mas­tery, care and pro­duc­tive capac­ity and the enhance­ment and pro­mo­tion of excel­lent olive oil prod­ucts from dif­fer­ent cul­ti­vars in our land,” Pentassuglia con­tin­ued.

All this makes us under­stand that we have taken the right path in sup­port­ing com­pa­nies to enhance and pro­mote [their prod­ucts] that can increase [their] vis­i­bil­ity and knowl­edge abroad, devel­op­ing com­pet­i­tive advan­tages related to the con­quest of new and impor­tant mar­ket shares,” he con­cluded.

Among the Apulian win­ners was Azienda Agricola Sanarica, which earned a Gold Award for its Ulivè Grand Cru.


(Photo: Azienda Agricola Sanarica)

The young com­pany attrib­uted its suc­cess to the family’s cen­tury-old tra­di­tion of olive grow­ing. Owner Emmanuel Sanarica said enter­ing the com­pe­ti­tion is impor­tant for any pro­ducer to com­pare their qual­ity with the best in the world.

Winning a Gold Award fills us with pride,” he told Olive Oil Times.

Sanarica described Ulivè as a medium-inten­sity blend of 10 dif­fer­ent vari­eties. It is crafted to be a trig­ger of fla­vors, which also means that it will not over­whelm dif­fer­ent foods but will exalt them,” he said.

Over four gen­er­a­tions, Sanarica’s fam­ily has worked in the fields of Montemesola, not far from Taranto, located on the Ionio coast. A unique rela­tion­ship devel­oped over time with one of the most ancient farm­houses in the region and this extra­or­di­nary ter­ri­tory,” he said.

Sanarica attrib­uted the suc­cess of his grand cru at the World Competition to the family’s farm­ing tra­di­tion cou­pled with state-of-the-art tech­nol­ogy.

Not far from Sanarica’s fam­ily farm, the pro­duc­ers behind the Albori project also cel­e­brated a Gold Award for their Peranzana extra vir­gin olive oil pro­duced in Foggia, the north­ern­most province of Puglia.


(Photo: Albori)

Albori com­prises a net­work of small grow­ers work­ing to pro­duce high-qual­ity olive oil. The project has been around for two sea­sons before win­ning the award.

That is one of the rea­sons that the Gold Award made us so happy,” founder and coor­di­na­tor Luca Iannone told Olive Oil Times. This project was born as a bet to see if local grow­ers could work together to give value to an excep­tional but often neglected olive cul­ti­var, Peranzana.”


By sub­mit­ting our prod­uct in New York, we wanted to under­stand if our Peranzana could be appre­ci­ated else­where as much as we appre­ci­ate it here,” he added. The results give new value to the grow­ers behind such efforts.”

The project aims to raise aware­ness of the local cul­ti­var in a region defined by frag­mented olive groves that were pre­vi­ously unable to achieve the scale of other Apulian pro­duc­ers.

Many rel­e­vant Apulian pro­duc­ers have seen their olive oils suc­ceed thanks to excep­tional cul­ti­vars that thrive in the region, but the Foggia ter­ri­tory and its Peranzana olives have his­tor­i­cally fallen behind,” Iannone said.

Meanwhile, to the south­east of Foggia, in Irpinia, Campania, the pro­duc­ers behind Azienda Agricola Case d’Alto earned a Gold Award for its organic Coevo Ravece, a fruity and pun­gent extra vir­gin olive oil from one of the most ancient cul­ti­vars grown locally.

Looking for high qual­ity, in our case, means har­vest­ing early to avoid the attacks of the olive fruit fly,” owner Claudio De Luca told Olive Oil Times. That results in a low yield and higher costs, but it also brings excep­tional qual­ity. Our olive oil has a healthy pro­file given the high pres­ence of polyphe­nols.”

De Luca added how the com­pany has long taken care of cen­tury-old Ravece olive trees and, ten years ago, expanded the grove.

Following the advice of the agron­o­mist, we planted Ravece and Ogliarola olive trees,” he said. The Ravece trees can take up to seven years before enter­ing pro­duc­tion, but they are worth the effort. It is a cul­ti­var highly resis­tant to cold, pro­vid­ing an abun­dant yield. That is also why many are now plant­ing Ravece in sev­eral areas of the coun­try.”

Along with fol­low­ing an organic farm­ing regime, the com­pany has deployed tech­nol­ogy to mon­i­tor pre­cip­i­ta­tion lev­els and olive fruit fly devel­op­ment, so the har­vest can even­tu­ally be antic­i­pated.

Another exam­ple of south­ern Italian resilience comes from Calabria, Italy’s sec­ond-largest olive oil-pro­duc­ing region.

The pro­duc­ers behind Olearia San Giorgio cel­e­brated earn­ing a Silver Award for its L’Aspromontano brand.


(Photo: Olearia San Giorgio)

The cen­tury-old fam­ily farm is run by five broth­ers, who have intro­duced inno­va­tion and new tech­nol­ogy to the olive-grow­ing oper­a­tions.

Since 1992, we trans­formed some of these groves once used to pro­duce lam­pante olive oil as fuel for lamps in mod­ern-day olive groves capa­ble of pro­duc­ing some of the best extra vir­gin olive oils in the world,” co-owner Antonio Fazari told Olive Oil Times.

Their win­ning blend is made from Carolea, Sinopolese and Ottobratica olives.

Together, these cul­ti­vars con­vey the region’s olive cul­ture into one olive oil,” he said. The result­ing qual­ity is an olive oil that does not cover the aro­mas and the fla­vors of food but merges them beau­ti­fully.”

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