Award-Winning Producer Seeks to Craft EVOO From Millenary Trees in Croatia

On the island of Pag, one NYIOOC winner plans to transform wild olives from some of the world’s oldest trees into award-winning extra virgin olive oil.
Millenary olive trees in Lun
Jun. 19, 2021
Nedjeljko Jusup

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The eupho­ria from the suc­cess of Dalmatian oils at the 2021 NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition has not sub­sided yet, but pro­duc­ers are already prepar­ing another sur­prise for next year.

I sug­gest that next year we send mil­len­nial olive oil to the world’s largest stage,” Ivica Vlatković, the pro­ducer behind OPG Vlatković, told sev­eral friends and an Olive Oil Times reporter.

This year, the doc­tor and award-win­ning pro­ducer earned two Gold Awards at the com­pe­ti­tion for a monocul­ti­var Šoltanka and a blend from Coratina and Leccino. It was the fifth year that Vlatković has been awarded at the NYIOOC.

See Also: The Best Olive Oils from Croatia

Along with Tomislav Duvnjak, Vlatković is one of the dri­ving forces behind the unprece­dented suc­cess of pro­duc­ers from Croatia’s south­west­ern shore­lines and coastal islands at the World Competition.

Of the 105 extra vir­gin olive oil sam­ples sent from Croatia, 53 came from Dalmatia and 52 from Istria. At the pre­vi­ous edi­tion of the com­pe­ti­tion, only 12 sam­ples arrived in New York from Dalmatia, rep­re­sent­ing an increase of 75 per­cent.

Croatian oils won 66 Gold and 20 Silver Awards at the 2021 NYIOOC, with 36 Gold and 13 Silver Awards going to Dalmatian pro­duc­ers.

We are the fourth in the world [in terms of NYIOOC awards],” Vlatković said. Istria has con­firmed its rep­u­ta­tion, but we from Dalmatia have proven now that we have qual­ity too.”

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Ivica Vlatković

He believes that appear­ances at the NYIOOC can help increase the stand­ing of all Croatian olive oils on the world stage. Away from Istria and Dalmatia, the two most sig­nif­i­cant olive grow­ing regions, the Croatian Littoral and the Dalmatian Hinterland are also home to olive oil pro­duc­ers.

Stretching for about 150 kilo­me­ters and com­pris­ing more than 1,000 islands, the Croatian Littoral is sand­wiched between Istria and Dalmatia.

On the island of Pag, known for its famous sheep cheese, the north­ern Lun penin­sula is home to more than 80,000 trees of the indige­nous Oblica vari­ety, which cover an area of 400 hectares.

Of these trees, 1,500 stand out in par­tic­u­lar, as they are sus­pected of being the old­est known wild olive trees in exis­tence, includ­ing one that is at least 2,000 years old.

Despite this dis­tinc­tion, Vlatković said that Lun and its his­tor­i­cal olive trees remain less well known than they should be out­side of Croatia.

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In order to change this and turn Lun into a uni­ver­sally rec­og­nized olive grow­ing ter­roir, Vlatković hopes to send olive oils har­vested from its mil­lenary groves to the 2022 NYIOOC.

If the oils were to be awarded, Vlatković said this would con­vince the world of the island’s qual­ity and estab­lish the mil­lenary groves of Lun as a cul­tural asset. It would also help pro­mote other wild olive groves on the Kvarner islands, Hvar, Lastovo, Pelješac and Kornati.

However, there will be chal­lenges involved in pro­duc­ing award-win­ning olive oil from Lun’s mil­lenary trees. The fruit from the trees is small, so 15 to 20 kilo­grams of olives must be har­vested to yield one kilo­gram of oil.

Despite the pro­duc­tion dif­fi­cul­ties, Vlatković said olive oils from Lun are unique as a result of the peninsula’s ter­roir and boast plen­ti­ful health ben­e­fits. He hopes to prove this to the inter­na­tional panel of judges at the World Olive Oil Competition next year.


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