Award-Winning Siblings Grateful Father Chose Coratina

After inheriting the family olive farm, brother and sister Tommaso and Angela Fiore continue the family legacy.
Harvest at Olio Infiore (Photo: Olio Infiore)
By Paolo DeAndreis
Jun. 2, 2024 14:34 UTC

Tommaso Infiore, an agron­o­mist and the co-owner of Olio Infiore, cel­e­brated the fam­ily farm’s debut award from the 2024 NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition, call­ing the recog­ni­tion a wel­come sur­prise.”

This is our first time par­tic­i­pat­ing in the NYIOOC, and it could­n’t have gone any bet­ter,” Fiore said.

The impact of cli­mate change started to affect our olive oil pro­duc­tion… In the last two years, olive farm­ing has been more chal­leng­ing than in the past.- Tommaso Infiore, co-owner, Olio Infiore

The Apulian pro­ducer earned a Gold Award for an organic medium-inten­sity Coratina har­vested from fam­ily groves in Terlizzi, just north of Bari.

The award gives us a way to mea­sure the qual­ity of our work,” Fiore said.

See Also:Producer Profiles

Fiore said the acco­lade came after a chal­leng­ing sea­son in which the farmer’s skills were tested to main­tain a high-qual­ity prod­uct.

The har­vest started very well because, after two years of absence, it finally rained,” Fiore said. And that is impor­tant. After that, the impact of cli­mate change started to affect our olive oil pro­duc­tion, as we expe­ri­enced extreme heat.”

Fortunately, we have some resources, such as irri­ga­tion, which helped us through. And then, it started to rain again in September and October,” he added. In the last two years, olive farm­ing has been more chal­leng­ing than in the past.”

Fiore and his team apply a series of tech­niques in the grove to mit­i­gate the impacts of extreme weather.

Adopting spe­cific agro­nomic prac­tices can be ben­e­fi­cial,” he said. For instance, rock dust helps lower ground tem­per­a­tures, as its white color reflects sun­light, cre­at­ing a cooler envi­ron­ment.”

However, even with such tech­niques on the field, when it does­n’t rain for two months and the tem­per­a­tures are close to 45 ºC, well, that is a bit of a strug­gle,” Fiore added.

While many olive oil pro­duc­ers in Puglia focus on sev­eral cul­ti­vars, Fiore’s fam­ily started with Coratina trees decades ago and con­tin­ues to focus on the endemic vari­ety today.

We con­sider our­selves lucky, as our father had grown all Coratina trees,” he said. Our whole com­pany is 100 per­cent Coratina. We started a bit by chance because we are man­ag­ing the lands that our father left us.”

Many of our approx­i­mately 1,200 trees are between 60 and 150 years old,” Fiore added. The youngest ones are in their 20s.”


Olio Infiore specializes in cultivating the Coratina olive variety, native to Puglia. (Photo: Olio Infiore)

Coratina, one of the hun­dreds of olive tree cul­ti­vars grown in Italy, is renowned glob­ally for pro­duc­ing medium to robust extra vir­gin olive oils extremely rich in polyphe­nols, con­tribut­ing to their health ben­e­fits.

Since the new gen­er­a­tion began work­ing on the farm, Fiore’s fam­ily has intro­duced many inno­va­tions to the grove and the mill.

After a short period of assess­ment, my son, myself, and my sis­ter, Angela, real­ized we wanted to add value to what our father had done,” Fiore said. So I focused directly on agro­nom­ics while my sis­ter trained as an extra vir­gin olive oil taster.”


We tried to get the best out of the fruits of the trees our father had grown,” he added. We started by exper­i­ment­ing. At first, we relied on the tra­di­tional olive mills eas­ily avail­able in the area, which is rich in olive farm­ing tra­di­tion.”

Then we moved on to more mod­ern tech­niques and inno­v­a­tive means, which meant leav­ing behind ancient tech­niques and deliv­er­ing an excel­lent prod­uct,” Fiore con­tin­ued.

The new com­pa­ny’s first step was estab­lish­ing itself as an organic pro­ducer. Besides apply­ing the organic farm­ing pro­to­cols, we stopped the most com­mon tra­di­tional prac­tices such as plow­ing the land,” Fiore said. Now, we focus on spon­ta­neous weed­ing.”

In short, we are try­ing to develop a more sus­tain­able approach to agri­cul­ture, an approach that respects the tree,” he added. Above all, such an approach respects the soil, try­ing to increase the organic mat­ter con­tained in the soil year after year.”


Rock dust in the olive grove helps reflect sunlight back into the atmosphere, lowering the temperature among the trees. (Photo: Olio Infiore)

Today, most of Infiore’s cus­tomers are Italians. We export very lit­tle, as most of the prod­uct is con­sumed within the Italian mar­ket,” he said.

We made some attempts a few years ago to export to the United States, and it went quite well,” Fiore added. Still, we do not have a dis­trib­u­tor there that con­tin­u­ously and struc­turally takes care of our company’s prod­ucts.”

While a sig­nif­i­cant por­tion of Italy’s and specif­i­cally Puglia’s cul­tural iden­tity is linked with olive oil, Fiore remarked that the pre­vail­ing olive oil cul­ture rep­re­sents a chal­lenge for a high-qual­ity pro­ducer today.

Olive oil has long been seen as the unfor­tu­nate cousin of wine,” he said. While wine has always been super-exalted, as it should be, olive oil has never enjoyed such atten­tion.”

Maybe that hap­pened because olive oil is con­sid­ered a condi­ment, and peo­ple have used it just for that pur­pose for so long,” Fiore added. Even today, many do not use it for cook­ing.”

Fiore believes the chal­lenge fac­ing Italian extra vir­gin olive oil pro­duc­ers is to expand the country’s olive oil cul­ture to all types of cook­ing, empha­siz­ing the value the prod­uct can add to the organolep­tic and health­ful pro­file of all kinds of food.


Tommaso Fiore

Customers need to see that when they buy qual­ity extra vir­gin olive oil, they are not only choos­ing a good prod­uct – not only a sim­ple condi­ment,” Infiore said. They are intro­duc­ing an ingre­di­ent that is good and healthy thanks to its unique con­tents, such as phe­nols.”

To help build this new cul­tural frame­work for appre­ci­a­tion of extra vir­gin olive oil, Tommaso Fiore often accom­pa­nies his cus­tomers to his groves to edu­cate them about a broader approach to olive oil con­sump­tion.

When our cus­tomers want to see our olive trees, I am so happy to go with them because it is essen­tial for me to show them where the extra vir­gin olive oil they con­sume comes from,” he said.

Additionally, I dis­cuss our fer­tile, grassy soil, which I take great pride in,” Fiore added. Currently, our orchards are vibrant with the scent of bloom­ing marigolds.”


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