Fairs, Competitions

American Producers Enjoy Another Good Year at NYIOOC

Despite setbacks for many in California, American producers still took home plenty of awards at this year's edition of the world's largest olive oil quality competition.

Johnny Jantz led American producers, winning two Golds and a Silver
May. 15, 2019
By Daniel Dawson
Johnny Jantz led American producers, winning two Golds and a Silver

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Amer­i­can olive oil pro­duc­ers enjoyed another excel­lent year at the 2019 NYIOOC World Olive Oil Com­pe­ti­tion, tak­ing home 52 awards. Of these, 28 were Gold Awards and 27 were Sil­ver.

In spite of a tough year for many Cal­i­for­nia-based pro­duc­ers, which saw spring­time frosts kill olive tree blos­soms and 120-degree sum­mer days dry out many of the sur­viv­ing fruits, pro­duc­ers still achieved a 54-per­cent suc­cess rate. This is the sec­ond high­est one for Amer­i­can pro­duc­ers at the world’s pre­mier olive oil com­pe­ti­tion.

We were sim­ply ecsta­tic, proud and hum­bled upon receiv­ing the news of our awards (and) respect­ful of the fact that we have cre­ated a prod­uct that is now com­pa­ra­ble to the high­est qual­ity oils from around the world.- Johnny Jantz, farm man­ager at Boc­ca­bella Farms

While, the vast major­ity of the awards were won by Cal­i­for­nia pro­duc­ers, two oils from Texas earned Sil­ver Awards and one oil from an Ore­gon-based pro­ducer, using a blend of Ore­gon and Cal­i­for­nia-grown olives, won a Gold Award.

I go get this fruit from Cal­i­for­nia and race it up here to pro­duce my extra vir­gin olive oils and there are always some ques­tions about whether that process is really doable,” Paul Durant, the mas­ter miller at Durant Olive Mill, told Olive Oil Times. These awards for me, with the fruit I source from Cal­i­for­nia have always been impor­tant.”

See more: Spe­cial Cov­er­age: NYIOOC 2019

Durant also entered an olive oil pro­duced from only Ore­gon-grown olives, which did not win. He said this result dis­ap­pointed him, but hopes that in the future, he will be able to win awards with his 100-per­cent Ore­gon-grown olives.

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How­ever, San Miguel, Cal­i­for­nia-based Boc­ca­bella Farms enjoyed the best night of any Amer­i­can pro­ducer, tak­ing home two Gold Awards and a Sil­ver one too.

This is the first and only time we have entered NYIOOC,” Johnny Jantz, the farm man­ager and chef at Boc­ca­bella Farms, told Olive Oil Times. We were sim­ply ecsta­tic, proud and hum­bled upon receiv­ing the news of our awards [and] respect­ful of the fact that we have cre­ated a prod­uct that is now com­pa­ra­ble to the high­est qual­ity oils from around the world.”

Jantz said that the whole team at Boc­ca­bella Farms was extremely proud of the award, espe­cially since Boc­ca­bella only began pro­duc­ing olive oil a few years ago. He hopes this award brings his oil more recog­ni­tion and attracts a larger cus­tomer base.

We have con­sis­tently pro­duced the high­est qual­ity olive oil pos­si­ble since our first har­vest just a short few years ago,” Jantz said. Hope­fully these acco­lades trans­late into more peo­ple enjoy­ing, ben­e­fit­ing from and shar­ing what we now know to be a glob­ally rec­og­nized brand that equals qual­ity.”

Johnny Jantz and Shaana Rahman of Boccabella Farms took home three awards this year.

Located not too far away from Boc­ca­bella Farms, San Miguel Olive Farm also enjoyed a good year at the com­pe­ti­tion, win­ning two Gold Awards.

Richard and Myrna Meisler, the hus­band and wife team behind San Miguel Olive Farm, were in atten­dance at the awards cer­e­mony on Fri­day. Meisler told Olive Oil Times that even though they have won in the past, it was very excit­ing to be called up to receive their awards in per­son.

Richard and Myrna Meisler

We were over­whelmed with joy in win­ning two gold medals,” he said. What an honor this was, Being the first pro­ducer called up by Cur­tis Cord to receive an award, was a fun sur­prise. Our hearts were beat­ing rapidly with heart­felt emo­tion.”

As with many other pro­duc­ers in Cal­i­for­nia and other parts of the olive oil world, the Meislers had to cope with California’s bad weather. The spring­time freezes and heat wave caused their oil to taste a bit dif­fer­ent than in pre­vi­ous years, but not lose any qual­ity.

With a blended oil, some vari­etals were heav­ier than oth­ers, thus pro­duc­ing quite a dif­fer­ent tast­ing oil,” he said. Our blend this year was more bit­ter, with very high total polyphe­nol count. The oils are not too but­tery, have a lin­ger­ing bit­ter­ness, medium inten­sity with a crescendo of a pep­pery fin­ish.”

Meisler added that the two Gold Awards make mar­ket­ing his olive oils as a healthy prod­uct even eas­ier.

The impact for this win solid­i­fies the qual­ity of our prod­uct,” he said. The mar­ket­ing will be very direct, being a health­ful extra vir­gin olive oil. Our Tus­can Gold Supremo and Tus­can Gold Ele­ganza are cer­ti­fied by the best judges in the world as being extra vir­gin olive oil. Oils with total high polyphe­nols, high oleic acid are cer­ti­fied by the FDA for car­dio health.”

About 250 miles far­ther south, in Long Beach, Cal­i­for­nia, Joshua Mardi­gian cel­e­brated a sec­ond con­sec­u­tive year of win­ning Gold in New York. The co-founder of Nuvo Oil took home two Gold Awards this year for an early har­vest and del­i­cate blend extra vir­gin olive oil.

Joshua and Nathan celebrate winning again at the NYIOOC.

Over­all, [we’re] just very grate­ful that this year’s oils turned out to be excep­tional ones,” Mardi­gian told Olive Oil Times. It never hurts to come out with Gold medals at inter­na­tional com­pe­ti­tions.”

He said that a com­bi­na­tion of cen­tury-old olive trees and years of learn­ing how to pro­duce high-qual­ity extra vir­gin olive oil are among the dri­ving fac­tors behind their recent suc­cess.

We love the 125-year-old olive trees that pro­duce our olives and we love our mill and our teach­ers who have helped us along our jour­ney,” he said.

While many of the Amer­i­can win­ners at this year’s com­pe­ti­tion are fairly new arrivals to the scene, Ann and Mark Siev­ers, co-own­ers of the Il Fiorello Olive Oil Com­pany, enjoyed a sev­enth con­sec­u­tive year of suc­cess at the NYIOOC.

Located in between the Green and Suisun Val­leys of cen­tral Cal­i­for­nia, the hus­band and wife team won a Gold Award for their Pen­dolino oil and a Sil­ver Award for their blend of Ital­ian vari­eties.

Siev­ers told Olive Oil Times that these awards serve as an acknowl­edg­ment that the Il Fiorello brand is among the best in the world, both to her exist­ing cus­tomers and poten­tial new cus­tomers.

Bench­mark­ing to the rest of the world is very impor­tant to our brand,” she said. I want to present the best of the world to my guests. We served more than 5,000 guests last year as well as the year before. Being able to state our record of awards is impor­tant to brand iden­ti­fi­ca­tion.”

Siev­ers said that very care­fully strict con­trols” and press­ing only organic olives to make her oils is what enabled Il Fiorello to achieve these two awards in a very dif­fi­cult year for Cal­i­for­nia pro­duc­ers.

This was a very dif­fer­ent year in Cal­i­for­nia,” she said. Most grow­ers expe­ri­enced an 80 per­cent reduc­tion in crop. If our coop­er­a­tive grow­ers even har­vested their olives, the qual­ity was very poor.”


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