From Champagne to EVOO: An Award-Winning Italian Producer Embraces His French Heritage

Vazart & Sons combine scale with technology and tradition to continue their generations-long pursuit of excellence in agricultural production.

Photo: Vazart & Sons.
Mar. 7, 2022
By Paolo DeAndreis
Photo: Vazart & Sons.

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Tucked into the fer­tile Tuscan hills dot­ted by olive and cypress trees are the evoca­tive remains of unfor­got­ten his­tory, which greet the vis­i­tor who wan­ders into the domain of this Italian pro­ducer with a French heart.

Winner of a Gold Award for the sec­ond con­sec­u­tive year at the 2021 NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition, Vazart & Sons olive farm is located between the his­toric city of Florence and the town of Vinci.

The best results come from adding mod­ern tech­nol­ogy to tra­di­tional means, such as the hand har­vest and the care­ful prun­ing of the olive trees.- Alexandre Vazart, owner, Vazart & Sons

The family’s land stretches from Leonardo’s home­town to the Chianti region, an area renowned for the beauty of its hills and the unique fla­vors of its wines and olive oils.

Alexandre Vazart and his fam­ily greet vis­i­tors in his large coun­try house sur­rounded by thou­sands of olive trees and ancient dry-stone walls carv­ing up the hilly and uneven ter­rain.

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We came here just a few years ago,” Vazart told Olive Oil Times. We were cap­tured by this enchant­ing place and the desire to care for an olive grove that had been neglected for so many years.

Vazart and his fam­ily were not new to farm­ing. His father and grand­fa­ther pro­duced Champagne, fol­low­ing a tra­di­tion that started at the begin­ning of the 19th cen­tury. Their descen­dants, though, had dif­fer­ent goals.


My wife and I wanted to work with olives and finally found this loca­tion where we could apply a com­pletely organic approach to olive grow­ing,” Vazart said. Fava beans are used as fer­til­iz­ers, and gen­tle soil tillage is designed to make the land breathe. We also breed bees, one more rea­son to have a com­pletely organic orchard.”

Walking around the orchard, per­fectly pruned Frantoio and Moraiolo olive trees qui­etly climb up the hill. Most of them are rel­a­tively young trees whose his­tory spans only a few decades.

I am not one of those who are obsessed with old trees, even if they are beau­ti­ful,” Vazart said. You do not need an ancient tree to obtain a high-end olive oil. I truly like the idea of plant­ing new olive trees and expand­ing our farm­ing ideas to more olive orchards.”


Photo: Vazart & Sons

Those are our cul­ti­vars,” he added. Mostly Frantoio and Moraiolo, and just some Leccino.”

Vazart hints at the rel­e­vance of olive vari­eties, which rep­re­sent the ancient tra­di­tion of Tuscan extra vir­gin olive oil.

Frantoio trees usu­ally have a large crown and are medium-sized vig­or­ous trees known for the rel­a­tively high yields and the vivid arti­choke and grass fla­vors of their olive oil.

Meanwhile, Moraiolo is a highly adapt­able vari­ety, resilient to cold and drought, whose con­sis­tent yields tend to min­i­mize the effects of the alter­nate bear­ing sea­sons typ­i­cal of most olive vari­eties.

The Vazart fam­ily began grow­ing olives in the area in 2017. The family’s suc­cess has come from mix­ing the olive oil to cre­ate a high-qual­ity Tuscan blend, whose tast­ing sen­sa­tions include arti­choke, arugula and olive leaf.

Almost all Vazart & Sons extra vir­gin olive oil is sold inter­na­tion­ally.

We started with our friends ask­ing for our oils from European coun­tries, Canada and more,” Vazart said. But since the brand has done so well on the inter­na­tional stage, we are receiv­ing orders from more coun­tries. One of the largest was recently placed by a Saudi Arabian firm.”

Vazart is also explor­ing the oppor­tu­nity to expand his oper­a­tion by plant­ing a new grove on the fam­ily land in Strada del Chianti, located in the Chianti Classico PDO area. The region boasts an oil-pro­duc­ing tra­di­tion dat­ing back to 1200.

The European Union-cer­ti­fied Protected Designation of Origin is only for local olive farm­ers who grow Frantoio, Moraiolo, Leccino and Correggiolo olives.

According to Vazart, being a small pro­ducer rep­re­sents an advan­tage when the goal is high-qual­ity pro­duc­tion.

Thanks to our small dimen­sions – we have only 2,000 trees – we can take care of each one of them,” Vazart said. We can prune them with­out devot­ing just a few min­utes to them, as one can see else­where.”

However, the cur­rent har­vest sea­son has come with plenty of chal­lenges. Bad weather has affected many Tuscan olive farm­ers.

This year, we man­aged to pro­duce only 1,500 liters. Let us hope the weather will be more kind in the future,” Vazart said.


Photo: Vazart & Sons

The Chianti expan­sion of the farm aims to have groves that are in a slightly more ele­vated area.

The new groves will be in areas which are both a lit­tle cooler and not exposed to the south, which also means avoid­ing the warmest sun­shine hours in the sum­mer­time,” Vazart said in ref­er­ence to the heat­waves that are becom­ing increas­ingly fre­quent across the Mediterranean basin.

Vazart also attrib­uted his suc­cess pro­duc­ing award-win­ning extra vir­gin olive oils to his groves’ prox­im­ity to a highly tech­no­log­i­cal mill, which begins pro­cess­ing the fam­i­ly’s olives just a few hours after they are har­vested.

That lim­its their expo­sure to olive oils’ ene­mies – light and heat,” he said. The mill then stores the extra vir­gin olive oil in steel con­tain­ers sealed under a nitro­gen atmos­phere.”

The best results come from adding mod­ern tech­nol­ogy to tra­di­tional means, such as the hand har­vest and the care­ful prun­ing of the olive trees,” Vazart added.

These steel con­tain­ers usu­ally store the newly-processed extra vir­gin olive oils for the first two months.

After that, we pro­ceed to a thor­ough and gen­tle fil­ter­ing oper­a­tion which brings our extra vir­gin olive oil to its final des­ti­na­tion con­tain­ers,” Vazart said. There it stays, in opti­mal stor­age con­di­tions, with bot­tles and other con­tain­ers filled only when our cus­tomers place an order.”

The French-Tuscan olive farmer believes fil­ter­ing new olive oil is essen­tial to give his extra vir­gin olive oil the abil­ity to with­stand time since that oper­a­tion removes all the remain­ing par­ti­cles and water from the fresh oil. If left unfil­tered, the water can accel­er­ate the oxi­da­tion.

Filtering is cru­cial. I have sam­ples from all the har­vests we have made in these years, and I can tell that I have 2017 olive oil sam­ples that are still high-qual­ity extra vir­gin olive oils,” Vazart con­cluded.


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