U.S. olive oil producers had a very strong showing at the 2013 New York International Olive Oil Competition. This year’s competition included 702 entries of extra virgin olive oil from 22 countries. The highest number of overall awards went to Italy (83 awards), Spain (51 awards)and the U.S. (36 awards).
Producers from the U.S. brought in 21 Gold and 15 Silver medals. All 27 winning producers were from California. All but three of them are based in Northern California.
Some producers achieved multiple awards. Pacific Sun Olive Oil led the pack with three Gold medals. Il Fiorello Olive Oil Co., Bondolio Olive Oil, Apollo Olive Oil and Berkeley Olive Grove 1913 won two Gold medals each.
Olive Oil Times spoke with a couple of the winners.
Apollo Olive Oil is a family owned small business in Oregon House, California. The company has received more than 45 awards, including being named as one of the top ten olive oil producers in the world by the Mastri Oleari Golden Lion international competition. Apollo’s olives are organic and traditionally farmed. Apollo partner Steve McCulley attributes success of their olive oil to taking extra steps for quality, beyond the norm. He said Apollo’s mill was designed to extract the oil in a vacuum to reduce oxidation. In addition, all olives are handpicked and placed into buckets, rather than knocking them onto mats. McCulley says that this method is costly, but reduces bruising and oxidation.
Berkeley Olive Grove 1913 is also a familiar name among award circles. Their 100-year-old grove is the “largest planting of mission olives anywhere,” said co-owner Darro Grieco. Grieco attributes the high quality of Berkeley’s oil to four key factors: organic farming, traditional agriculture (wide tree spacing), dry farming (rain irrigation only) and the varietal. Grieco compares the old trees, planted in 1913, to wine where “the best wine comes from old vineyards.”
The winning olive oils from the United States are below. The full list of winners can be found at the Best Olive Oils website.