A Higher Calling for Award-Winning Producers in Italy

Committed to innovation and the environment, first-time NYIOCC winners know the future depends on the choices made today.

Fattoria di Triboli team
By Ylenia Granitto
Jul. 9, 2021 09:33 UTC
Fattoria di Triboli team

Part of our con­tin­u­ing spe­cial cov­er­age of the 2021 NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition.

Extra vir­gin olive oil pro­duc­ers from 28 coun­tries won a record-high 790 awards at the 2021 NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition.

While many were repeat win­ners, plenty of first-time entrants were also rec­og­nized at the world’s most pres­ti­gious olive oil qual­ity com­pe­ti­tion.

Our goal is to obtain a good prod­uct but also make sure that the gen­er­a­tions of our chil­dren can ben­e­fit from our work and enjoy a healthy planet,- Carmen Bonafante, co-founder, Evo Sicily

For the new­com­ers to the NYIOOC, pro­duc­ing high-qual­ity olive oils is not sim­ply an end in itself. These award-win­ning farm­ers are com­mit­ted to pro­tect­ing the envi­ron­ment by pro­mot­ing bio­di­ver­sity and the care of the land.

They are socio-cul­tur­ally engaged and cre­ate net­works, look­ing into the future with­out los­ing sight of their roots and using tech­nol­ogy as a means to make the world a health­ier place.

More than just an agri­cul­tural pro­duc­tion, ours is a cul­tural and eth­i­cal project,” said Pietro Barachini, the co-founder of iOlive with Dario Gronchi, which earned a Silver Award at the NYIOOC. This recog­ni­tion con­firms we are head­ing in the right direc­tion.”

Barachini and Gronchi founded iOlive as a dig­i­tal trace­abil­ity project based on blockchain tech­nol­ogy that aims to guar­an­tee the ori­gin and qual­ity of extra vir­gin olive oil.

See Also:The Best Olive Oils from Italy

Italy is the coun­try with the largest num­ber of olive vari­eties, and we aim to pre­serve and expand this incred­i­ble bio­di­ver­sity,” added Barachini, who runs a his­toric nurs­ery in Pescia, in the province of Pistoia.

For years, the pro­duc­ers behind iOlive have been com­mit­ted to rais­ing aware­ness of the impor­tance of agri­cul­tural sus­tain­abil­ity and its cen­tral role in high-qual­ity olive oil pro­duc­tion. When Barachini met his future asso­ciate, the two imme­di­ately found com­mon ground.


Photo: Dario Gronchi and Pietro Barachini

We believe in the poten­tial of dig­i­tal tech­nolo­gies to facil­i­tate the work of qual­ity pro­duc­ers,” said Gronchi, who comes from the renew­able energy sec­tor. And we think that qual­ity can­not be sep­a­rated from the envi­ron­ment care.”

His par­ents, Marcello and Brunella, sup­port the two entre­pre­neurs in tak­ing care of more than 1,500 olive trees in Bolgheri and another 500 in Gabbro, in the province of Livorno.

Recently, we added three hectares of land includ­ing an old mill, and there is a plan to plant another 1,200 olive trees,” Gronchi said.

As their trace­abil­ity project devel­oped, the cre­ators of iOlive started pro­duc­ing extra vir­gin olive oil with typ­i­cal Tuscan vari­eties – Moraiolo, Leccino, Razzo, Pendolino and Maurino – and their main goal is to expand pro­duc­tion with many oth­ers.

The preser­va­tion of bio­di­ver­sity is not only about the vari­eties we use to pro­duce extra vir­gin olive oils,” Barachini said. It implies the con­ser­va­tion of land­scape and the com­mu­ni­ca­tion of the his­tory and tra­di­tions of a ter­ri­tory. Thus, pro­mot­ing bio­di­ver­sity involves our eth­i­cal and cul­tural pat­ri­mony.”

Slightly more than 700 kilo­me­ters south of Tuscany, the founders of Evo Sicily share a sim­i­lar view about the role of sus­tain­abil­ity and cul­tural preser­va­tion in olive oil pro­duc­tion.


Photo: Carmen Bonfante and Giusy Gambini

We are very happy for this recog­ni­tion from the panel of the NYIOOC,” Carmen Bonfante said after receiv­ing a Silver Award for Embrace. We have cho­sen our brand name for his uni­ver­sal sig­nif­i­cance, and, with this clear mes­sage of open­ness, we are ready to cross the Italian bor­ders.”

In Campobello di Mazara, in west­ern Sicily, about 1,000 olive trees, sev­eral of which are a cen­tury old, are spread over five hectares of land in the Archaeological Park of Selinunte.


The grove is located in the area of the Cave di Cusa – an ancient stone quarry that pro­vided mate­r­ial for the con­struc­tion of the Acropolis of the vil­lage – where Nocellara del Belice trees, flanked by some Biancolilla used as pol­li­na­tors, thrive and give life to the Sicilia PGI mono­va­ri­etal.

The award has been a won­der­ful sur­prise,” co-founder Giusy Gambini said. Our com­pany was formed recently, in 2019, and we imme­di­ately had to deal with the Covid-19 pan­demic, but we did not lose courage, and indeed, we gave our best to obtain a good prod­uct.”

Last year, the two entre­pre­neurs donated part of the pro­ceeds from sales of Embrace to the Civil Protection in sup­port of the national health struc­tures.

Along with hav­ing a pos­i­tive impact on the com­mu­nity, the pro­duc­ers behind Evo Sicily also do their best to pro­tect the envi­ron­ment.

We are aware that our work can have an impact on the envi­ron­ment,” Bonfante said. So it was nat­ural for us to focus on sus­tain­abil­ity, and recently we obtained the Friends of the Earth cer­ti­fi­ca­tion for the sus­tain­able method we apply through­out the entire pro­duc­tion chain, from har­vest­ing to pack­ag­ing.”

Our goal is to obtain a good prod­uct but also make sure that the gen­er­a­tions of our chil­dren can ben­e­fit from our work and enjoy a healthy planet,” she added.

Located just south of Tuscany in the region of Lazio, envi­ron­men­tal preser­va­tion is also the focus of Alessandra Nicolai, who earned a Gold Award for her A1980.


Photo: Alessandra Nicolai

It was a great emo­tion to receive this recog­ni­tion, which allows us to com­mu­ni­cate our qual­ity at an inter­na­tional level,” said Nicolai, who just a few years ago took the reins of the fam­ily farm.

In Montefiascone, on the south­east­ern banks of Lake Bolsena, she man­ages an organic com­pany with the help of her hus­band, Marco Crisostomi.

My father, Valerio, who now sup­ports us in the man­age­ment of the grove, decided to con­vert to organic farm­ing 20 years ago,” she said. He had a far-sighted approach, and now I shared his vision of good agri­cul­tural prac­tices as well as respect for our land.”

Before becom­ing a farmer, Nicolai worked in an office, but one day felt the desire to go back to nature and ded­i­cate her­self to the olive trees planted by her grand­par­ents.

It was the best choice I could make,” she said. I live on the land where my crops grow, and I am the first con­sumer of my prod­ucts. So every day, I live the expe­ri­ence that healthy prod­ucts can only come from healthy land.”

Composed of 900 Leccino, Moraiolo, Frantoio, Caninese, and Pendolino trees, Nicolai’s grove is spread over five hectares, which retained the orig­i­nal exten­sive plant­ing pat­tern.

After the his­tor­i­cal frosts of the last cen­tury, this setup made it pos­si­ble to plant new trees, while main­tain­ing a dis­tance of six meters by six meters and eight meters by 10 meters between them.

At the heart of the orchard, a panoramic ter­race over­look­ing the lake is ded­i­cated to tast­ing and hos­pi­tal­ity.

Indeed, our goal is to spread the cul­ture of high-qual­ity extra vir­gin olive oil,” Nicolai con­cluded.

In Impruneta, near Florence, Fattoria di Triboli was founded in 2018 by a group of pro­fes­sion­als with dif­fer­ent skills who have teamed up with the pur­pose is to con­tribute to a more respon­si­ble soci­ety.”


Photo: Fattoria di Triboli

The 15-hectare organ­i­cally-man­aged olive grove is the core of their 100-hectare prop­erty, which also includes a large wooded area and a lake.

This is a won­der­ful recog­ni­tion that pushes us to do even bet­ter,” Luigi Viscardi, the company’s man­ag­ing direc­tor, said after receiv­ing a Gold Award for a blend of Frantoio, Moraiolo, Leccino and Pendolino olives.

We wish to con­stantly improve our­selves and reach excel­lence in every aspect of our activ­ity,” he added.

This far-reach­ing approach is based on a strong com­mit­ment to research and sci­en­tific stud­ies and col­lab­o­ra­tions with insti­tu­tions.

Alongside the Blekinge Institute of Technology in Sweden, we have devel­oped a strate­gic plan to achieve envi­ron­men­tal, social and eco­nomic sus­tain­abil­ity for our farm,” Viscardi said.

He and his team pay atten­tion to the envi­ron­men­tal com­pat­i­bil­ity of the entire pro­duc­tion chain, start­ing from the adop­tion of regen­er­a­tive agri­cul­ture prac­tices, which are aimed at improv­ing the health and vital­ity of the soil, to the use of stain­less steel bot­tles which are com­pletely recy­clable.

We feel a great respon­si­bil­ity for our land, and we are focused on improv­ing its bio­di­ver­sity,” Viscardi said, empha­siz­ing that they are rein­tro­duc­ing autochtho­nous and rarely cul­ti­vated olives, such as the Madonna dell’Impruneta vari­ety.

The clay soils in the hilly Tuscan region allow for the ideal devel­op­ment of 4,800 olive trees, of which 1,100 were planted over the past two years.

With the goal to make high qual­ity, we are aim­ing to add land and expand our pro­duc­tion with native Tuscan olive vari­eties,” Viscardi said. This is a demand­ing job, but it gives us great sat­is­fac­tion that pushes us to con­tinue with a con­stant focus on our sus­tain­abil­ity goals.”


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