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Producers of the Best Greek Olive Oils React to Their NYIOOC Awards

Award-winning Greek producers discuss their reactions to the New York International Olive Oil Competition results and their efforts to produce the best olive oils in the world.

May. 2, 2016
By Lisa Radinovsky

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Watch­ing the broad­cast of the New York Inter­na­tional Olive Oil Com­pe­ti­tion (NYIOOC) results live at 2 a.m. Greek time, Vit­sent­zos Kornaros heard that Chrisopigi PDO Sitia Kri­tis won a cov­eted Best in Class award. Too excited to sleep, he wanted to wake every­one he knew to share the news.

There is no secret to what we do. There is no place for com­pro­mise. We search for per­fec­tion in every sin­gle part of the process.- Kon­stan­ti­nos Papadopou­los, pro­ducer of Mytho­cia Omphacium

Their win­ning secret? We believe in our prod­uct, and we work very hard to be so good. We care for our olive trees with love and knowl­edge that enriches them in every way. We par­tic­i­pate in and super­vise all lev­els” of pro­duc­tion in east­ern Crete. This means that we know what our prod­uct needs so as to pro­vide it at the right time.” Kornaros hopes this award will make Chrisopigi, which means foun­tain of gold,” more rec­og­niz­able world­wide,” said Kornaros.
See more: The Best Greek Extra Vir­gin Olive Oils for 2016
Gio­vanni Bianchi said he knew that the qual­ity of Argali extra vir­gin olive oil [EVOO] had improved a lot,” and he was hop­ing for an NYIOOC award, but to see Argali win Best in Class brought a unique and unex­pected emo­tion.” With his choices jus­ti­fied, he said, I am deter­mined and moti­vated to con­tinue to improve the qual­ity of my oil,” while respect­ing the envi­ron­ment and his co-work­ers.

An Ital­ian com­puter pro­gram­mer based in Rome, Bianchi was born in Thes­sa­loniki, Greece, where his fam­ily lived for his first eleven years, cre­at­ing such a strong link with Greece” that he decided to buy land with 250 hardy olive trees in Gar­galianoi, west­ern Pelo­pon­nese, in 2004. From that year, I began dream­ing and think­ing about olive oil. I stud­ied, took classes in Italy on oil tast­ing, and con­vinced the millers to make oil as I wanted. My dream would be to return to Greece and make this great pas­sion my job.” Already, he per­son­ally man­ages every har­vest, bot­tling, and prun­ing ses­sion.

Olive Mill Kyk­lopas and Kyk­lopas Olive Mill Organic both won Gold Awards. Niki Keli­dou, pres­i­dent of Kyk­lopas (or Cyclops), says each prize our com­pany wins gives added value and also shows us that we are on the right track.” Their olive vari­ety, Makris, is our great asset, and our major weapon is to treat it as it deserves.” Their part of north­east­ern Greece, very close to Turkey, Bul­garia, and per­haps the cave of the Cyclops, expe­ri­enced almost no prob­lems with the olive fly or tree dis­eases this year, which helped them to pro­duce an excep­tional EVOO.

When Yanni’s Finest from Yan­ni’s Olive Grove won a Gold Award, while Yanni’s Lim­ited PDO Chalkidiki won a Sil­ver, Evi Pro­dro­mou said it was like we man­aged to climb Mount Ever­est, to the top of the world.” She added that these NYIOOC awards will make a huge dif­fer­ence for our com­pany. Our EVOOs are now known on the whole planet as high qual­ity EVOOs,” with both Yanni’s EVOOs and Chalkidiki vari­eties win­ning such inter­na­tional recog­ni­tion” for the first time.

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Yan­ni’s Olive Grove is the only com­pany involved in the pilot project of a unique research method called Appli­ca­tion of Intel­li­gent Agri­cul­ture” which aims to pro­duce Green Early Har­vest Extra Vir­gin Olive Oils with the high­est pos­si­ble qual­ity.” All aspects of pro­duc­tion are under the care of the Kri­nos Olive Cen­ter and the Amer­i­can Farm School. They fol­low, Pro­dro­mou said, the instruc­tions of the IOC by the book” in a ver­ti­cally inte­grated pro­duc­tion process for fully con­trolled qual­ity assur­ance from the field to the fin­ished prod­uct using tra­di­tional prac­tices but with sci­en­tific con­trol.” The result is organolep­tic excel­lence and very high polyphe­nol con­tent (for extra health ben­e­fits).

Kon­stan­ti­nos Papadopou­los said he expects his Gold Award for Mytho­cia Omphacium Organic and Sil­ver Award for Mytho­cia Omphacium to help us give our brand the pres­tige we want.” He believes the fact that our prod­ucts have won a num­ber of dis­tinc­tions in only two years is the result of peo­ple work­ing hard and with pas­sion and striv­ing for qual­ity. It is a great moti­va­tion to think that we con­tribute to spread­ing the excel­lent qual­ity of Greek olive oil all over the world. There is no secret to what we do. There is no place for com­pro­mise. We search for per­fec­tion in every sin­gle part of the process.” Work­ing near ancient Olympia and inspired by their love for olive oil, faith and pas­sion,” they engage in con­tin­u­ous research and sci­en­tific mon­i­tor­ing,” har­vest­ing early for best results.

James Pana­giotopou­los, PJ Kabos founder and owner, views his Gold Award for PJ Kabos Fam­ily Reserve and Sil­ver Award for PJ Kabos as another brick in the house of trust we are build­ing with and for our respected cus­tomers, an added ver­i­fi­ca­tion of yet another year of high qual­ity con­sis­tency.” He attrib­utes his company’s suc­cess to their main­te­nance of high stan­dards with no qual­ity com­pro­mise, spar­ing no expense on our part in order to achieve this. From car­ing for our trees to olive har­vest­ing, oil extrac­tion, stor­age and trans­porta­tion of the final prod­uct,” they come as close to per­fec­tion as pos­si­ble.”

Efthimi­adi Estate co-own­ers Iris Efthimi­adou and her fiancé Sam Lord received a mid­dle of the night sur­prise, learn­ing about the Gold Award for Eliris Extra­or­di­nary Organic with excite­ment and sheer joy,” as well as pride that our small fam­ily com­pany is pro­duc­ing at the high­est level in the indus­try.”

In 2008, Efthimi­adou and Lord gave up suc­cess­ful careers in Lon­don” to return to north­east­ern Greece to honor her father’s mem­ory by reju­ve­nat­ing and tend­ing the cher­ished fam­ily olive grove,” an unusual mix of Greek olive vari­eties, includ­ing Koroneiki, Kala­mata, Tsounati, Man­aki, Megar­i­tiki and Halkidiki. Lord empha­sized that Eliris has a very low acid­ity (0.24 per­cent) and pos­si­bly the low­est per­ox­ide value on the mar­ket (1.9 mmol O2/kg) due to healthy fruit and fas­tid­i­ous prod­uct han­dling pre- and post-extrac­tion,” mean­ing very lit­tle oxi­da­tion in the oil, so it stays fresh much longer than most EVOOs.

Ellie Tra­gakes of Hel­lenic Agri­cul­tural Enter­prises says we were immensely grat­i­fied that the unusual qual­i­ties of the Kolovi olive vari­ety, native to our home island of Lesvos, were rec­og­nized at the high­est level” when their Acaia EVOO won a Gold Award. In fact, we cre­ated our Acaia brand in order to intro­duce con­sumers every­where to the island’s olive oil, which is prover­bially famous for its aro­mas and del­i­cate fla­vor.” They attribute their suc­cess to our painstak­ing selec­tion accord­ing to the most strin­gent organolep­tic and chem­i­cal cri­te­ria” and expect their NYIOOC Gold to help us achieve our goal to make our Acaia olive oil well known to con­sumers in North Amer­ica.”

After Gaea Sitia won a Gold Award, CEO Aris Kefalo­gian­nis com­mented that it is always an honor for us to win awards because it vin­di­cates our efforts” and gives us moti­va­tion and more strength as well as respon­si­bil­ity to offer the best extra vir­gin olive oil to our cus­tomers.” Although abnor­mally hot weather” in Gaea’s pro­duc­ing areas meant this was one of the most chal­leng­ing crops for many years in terms of qual­ity,” Gaea found a way to excel, using the best pos­si­ble prac­tices in order to pro­duce the best, authen­tic high qual­ity Extra Vir­gin Olive Oil.”

Greece’s top win­ners at this year’s NYIOOC exem­plify the results of a trend Kefalo­gian­nis has noticed in his coun­try: More and more, espe­cially young pro­duc­ers try to be informed and edu­cated and pro­duce olive oil fol­low­ing best prac­tices. This will make the dif­fer­ence in the year to come.” It is no coin­ci­dence that the top Greek award win­ners all focus on high qual­ity, their aim for per­fec­tion, and stren­u­ous efforts to pro­duce excel­lent EVOO.

Some of the win­ning Greek brands will be avail­able for sale by U.S. dis­trib­u­tors and retail­ers who stock them on the new Best Olive Oils Mar­ket­place, set to launch in a few weeks.


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