History and Innovation Guide an Award-Winning Producer in Umbria

Through a fusion of historical influences and sustainable practices, Castello Monte Vibiano has achieved outstanding quality goals while preserving the local environment.

Castello Monte Vibiano Vecchio
Feb. 2, 2021
By Ylenia Granitto
Castello Monte Vibiano Vecchio

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A sense of won­der­ment encroaches upon vis­i­tors to the Castello Monte Vibiano Vecchio, located in the heart of the cen­tral Italian region of Umbria.

An ancient cas­tle dat­ing back to the 1st cen­tury BC seam­lessly coex­ists with a state-of-the-art olive oil mill among the green hills and val­leys.

The beauty of being a high-qual­ity extra vir­gin olive oil pro­ducer is that you are always look­ing for some­thing new that allows you to improve.- Lorenzo Fasola Bologna, co-owner, Castello Monte Vibiano Vecchio

Lorenzo Fasola Bologna, co-owner of the estate, described how his­tory and moder­nity have trans­formed Castello Monte Vibiano Vecchio into one of the world’s best extra vir­gin olive oil pro­duc­ers.

The jour­ney started with Fasola Bologna’s father, Andrea, and has since been car­ried out by him­self and his sis­ter, Maria Camilla.

See Also: Producer Profiles

The brand’s mete­oric rise has paired an effec­tive busi­ness strat­egy with a real vision of sus­tain­able devel­op­ment, con­nect­ing the family’s his­tor­i­cal roots to the future.

The far-reach­ing project began to take shape more than 50 years ago by plant­ing roughly 10,000 high-trunk trees to sur­round the olive groves and the vine­yards.

In addi­tion to the imple­men­ta­tion of for­est resources, with their con­tri­bu­tion in terms of car­bon diox­ide absorp­tion, over the years, the fam­ily has applied low-impact energy tech­nolo­gies, intro­duced elec­tric vehi­cles, and started to re-use agri­cul­tural by-prod­ucts.

Thanks to a con­stant updat­ing of the pro­duc­tion tech­niques and fruit­ful col­lab­o­ra­tion with research cen­ters, Castello Monte Vibiano Vecchio became the first com­pany to obtain the Zero CO2 Emissions’ cer­ti­fi­ca­tion (DNV UNI ISO 14064) pro­vided by a lead­ing clas­si­fi­ca­tion body.

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Castello Monte Vibiano Vecchio

We have always believed that the real qual­ity can only come from a healthy envi­ron­ment,” Fasola Bologna told Olive Oil Times. Yet, since we have the priv­i­lege of liv­ing in a land that is beau­ti­ful and per­fect just as it is, our mis­sion is not to improve it, but rather to value and pre­serve it.”

The pas­sion­ate com­mit­ment of the fam­ily to safe­guard the ter­ri­tory has nat­u­rally evolved into a stead­fast ded­i­ca­tion to qual­ity. As a result, the Umbrian farm boasts a series of suc­cesses at the NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition, includ­ing four Gold Awards earned dur­ing the last edi­tion.

We are very sat­is­fied with the recog­ni­tion for our flag­ship prod­uct, Borgiona,” Fasola Bologna said. I believe that this extra vir­gin olive oil, with its dis­tinc­tive fea­tures, is look­ing to the future. Also, we are pleased that the NYIOOC recon­firmed the qual­ity of Vubia.”

The blend, which incor­po­rates typ­i­cal vari­eties of the region – Dolce Agogia, Moraiolo, Frantoio and Leccino – com­bined in vary­ing per­cent­ages, takes its name from the Etruscans’ word to call the peo­ple of the vil­lage.

Later, when his­tory and leg­end mix, Vubia becomes the female pro­tag­o­nist of a tale from the third cen­tury BC. During the Second Punic War between Rome and Hannibal’s Carthaginians, her 20-year-old sons were sent to the front.

We have always believed that the real qual­ity can only come from a healthy envi­ron­ment.- Lorenzo Fasola Bologna, 

As time went by, she became increas­ingly alarmed by news from the bat­tle­field and began pray­ing to Bacchus for their safe return. When she even­tu­ally saw them com­ing back unin­jured, down­hill from Mount Vibiano, she decided to plant a vine­yard as an offer­ing of grat­i­tude to the god.

The sacred plot, now called Vigna Lorenzo, is over­looked by an ancient olive grove. There you will find sev­eral autochtho­nous vari­eties – includ­ing Moraiolo, Frantoio, Dolce Agogia, Borgiona, San Felice, Rosciola di Panicale, Rosciola Umbra, Limona, Pocciolo, Nostrale di Rigali and Capolga Umbra – some of which are blended in Tremilaolive Centuries-Old Trees.

The evoca­tive power of the story of love and grate­ful­ness expressed by the leg­endary Vubia endows these ancient fields with a spe­cial atmos­phere. In 2018, the orchard was cho­sen as the venue for an impres­sive event to cel­e­brate the night har­vest.

We have come up with the Harvest by Night extra vir­gin olive oil to send the mes­sage that cli­mate change is real,” Fasola Bologna said. It is hap­pen­ing right now, and we can­not afford to lose time.”

We must act, start­ing from sus­tain­ably pro­duc­ing food,” he added. At this rate, in fact, and if we do not take action, tra­di­tional har­vest­ing will become increas­ingly dif­fi­cult due to the rise in tem­per­a­tures.”

An inter­na­tion­ally renowned artist, Felice Limosani, cre­ated two site-spe­cific art instal­la­tions at the launch event – an immer­sive play of lights and sounds lit up the evening in the ancient olive grove and at the cas­tle.

See Also: Best Olive Oils From Italy

The guests were encour­aged to take off their ele­gant and high-heel shoes and wear rub­ber boots so that they could help the har­vesters pick olives and fill up the bins, which were imme­di­ately deliv­ered to the mill.

Receiving recog­ni­tion for this prod­uct had a strong sym­bolic value,” Fasola Bologna said. It means we are head­ing in the right direc­tion, even with our bold­est choices. Today, night oper­a­tions are lim­ited to a small part of the pro­duc­tion, but who knows whether, in the future, this prac­tice can become more wide­spread.”

The last olive har­vest was char­ac­ter­ized by nor­mal aver­age tem­per­a­tures with cool days in early October, Fasola Bologna added.

But we know that every year, we must be ready to cope with dif­fer­ent weather issues as global warm­ing starts being a prob­lem,” he said. We saw this with the last grape-har­vest­ing sea­son, which was con­cluded much ear­lier than the pre­vi­ous years. The olive har­vest at night was a chal­lenge, a call on every­one to act and tackle cli­mate change.”

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Castello Monte Vibiano Vecchio

All com­pany choices aim to reach this goal, and every­one is involved. For this pur­pose, 30 elec­tric bikes are avail­able for vis­i­tors of the farm to use, allow­ing them to explore the estate and 55-hectare olive grove.

Yet, the idea is to expand the land ded­i­cated to the pro­duc­tion of extra vir­gin olive oil.

We are plan­ning to plant more olive trees,” Fasola Bologna said, point­ing out that the com­pany can also rely on its state-of-the-art mill.

It is equipped with both hor­i­zon­tal and ver­ti­cal malax­ers. We ana­lyze the fruits and, accord­ing to spe­cific para­me­ters, we decide whether to work with the three-phase or the two-phase tech­nol­ogy,” he said. However, we con­tin­u­ously test and exper­i­ment, and over the years, this allowed us to obtain more data on the olives and to under­stand how to get the best from the dif­fer­ent vari­eties.”

We are always look­ing for new things,” Fasola Bologna added, show­ing how the unfail­ing flair for research and exper­i­men­ta­tion is a con­stant at Castello Monte Vibiano Vecchio.

But, above all, we try to improve and sur­pass our­selves. Perfection does not exist, and I believe that in the olive oil sec­tor, we can still make sig­nif­i­cant progress, espe­cially with regards to milling tech­nolo­gies,” he con­cluded. The beauty of being a high-qual­ity extra vir­gin olive oil pro­ducer is that you are always look­ing for some­thing new, that some­thing extra that allows you to improve and make a real dif­fer­ence.”


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