Greek Olive Oil Producers React to NYIOOC Wins

Producers, marketers, and exporters of this year's best Greek olive oils share what their NYIOOC awards mean to them, how they manage to produce olive oils good enough to earn top honors, and how this fits in with their company philosophies.

Dino Pierrakos, whose family produces award-winning Laconiko olive oils, at the awards ceremony in New York last week. (Photo: NYIOOC)
By Lisa Radinovsky
May. 2, 2017 09:15 UTC
Dino Pierrakos, whose family produces award-winning Laconiko olive oils, at the awards ceremony in New York last week. (Photo: NYIOOC)

This year, Greek olive oil pro­duc­ers over­came a dif­fi­cult har­vest for their best per­for­mance yet at the New York International Olive Oil Competition (NYIOOC), more than tripling last year’s suc­cess rate and tak­ing home more awards than ever before: 46 awards, 20 of them gold. The impres­sive accom­plish­ment dur­ing an eco­nomic cri­sis, in com­pe­ti­tion with a record-break­ing 910 olive oils from 27 coun­tries, con­firmed Greek pro­duc­ers’ ded­i­ca­tion to excel­lence.

There is no higher honor. The holy grail, the NYIOOC, has val­i­dated our ideals and efforts.- Panagiotis Kotsilimpas, Amphora Olympia

A num­ber of the pro­duc­ers, mar­keters, and exporters of the world’s best Greek extra vir­gin olive oils shared with Olive Oil Times what their NYIOOC awards meant to them, how they man­aged to pro­duce extra vir­gin olive oils (EVOOs) good enough to earn the indus­try’s top hon­ors, and how this fits in with their com­pany philoso­phies.

Two Greek com­pa­nies won not one, but two, Gold Awards. One of these was Hellenic Agricultural Enterprises, with Golds for two medium extra vir­gin olive oils pro­duced from the rare Kolovi olive native to Lesvos. Ellie Tragakes said they are thrilled with the results of the NYIOOC, because our pre­mium brand ACAIA won Gold for the sec­ond year in a row, and our much newer brand Aeolian Olive also won Gold. We hope that the pres­tige of the NYIOOC will mean that both our brands will receive grow­ing world­wide recog­ni­tion for their excep­tional qual­ity and taste.“

The other Greek com­pany with two Gold Awards at the NYIOOC this year was PJ Kabos, with Golds for PJ Kabos and PJ Kabos 11 – 12-16, both medium Koroneiki EVOOs from the Ancient Olympia area. As James Panagiotopoulos com­mented, even though God has blessed us with awards every year since we started par­tic­i­pat­ing in com­pe­ti­tions, the antic­i­pa­tion and hope of see­ing our name in the award cred­its’ live from New York each year is still there. Actually it is an even more intense feel­ing than the first year we par­tic­i­pated; reach­ing the top is easy com­pared to the effort and moti­va­tion it takes to stay there!”

Three Greek com­pa­nies each won a Gold Award accom­pa­nied by a Silver Award this year. Great Stories P.C., pro­duc­ers of 39/22 EVOO, won a Gold for their 39/22 Medium Koroneiki and a Silver for their 39/22 medium Manaki. Lefteris Komatas con­sid­ers this more proof that we are good at what we do, and we aren’t a fire­work” that merely pro­duces a short-lived, bril­liant dis­play, but a con­sis­tently mul­ti­ple-award-win­ning enter­prise. Quality for us is the secret and our pri­or­ity at every level, even if we have to sac­ri­fice’ quan­tity, money, time or any­thing else.” They are also proud to offer a choice of three mono­va­ri­etal EVOOs, which they never blend, pre­fer­ring to let each vari­ety show­case its own spe­cial qual­i­ties.

Panagiotis Kotsilimpas said of the NYIOOC Gold Award for Amphora Olympia PGI Organic Early Harvest, a del­i­cate Koroneiki, and the Silver for Amphora Olympia PGI Classic Early Harvest, a medium Koroneiki, there is no higher honor. The holy grail, the NYIOOC, has val­i­dated our ideals and efforts,” exten­sive research and painstak­ing atten­tion to all phases of pro­duc­tion. Since receiv­ing mind­bog­gling” results from a lab test­ing his family’s EVOO, it has become his life­time ambi­tion to gather the great­est olive oil minds pos­si­ble, and give hope to local pro­duc­ers that their efforts will not go unseen.”

Founders Michael Olaes and George Kapeleris of Patrida Imports, pro­duc­ers of Lidrivio EVOO, were incred­i­bly excited that all of our hard work and ded­i­ca­tion has been rec­og­nized” by their NYIOOC awards, a Gold for Lidrivio, a medium blend, and a Silver for Lidrivio LE, a medium Athenoelia. Olaes empha­sized the impor­tance of their use of Athenoelia olives, a rare olive only avail­able in the south­ern region of Greece.” He explained that Grandmother or Yiayia, our fam­ily matri­arch who lived to the incred­i­ble age of 114, was the dri­ving force behind Lidrivio. Her pas­sion for life, olive oil, and the Mediterranean diet inspired us to keep the fam­ily tra­di­tion of pick­ing and press­ing olives alive.”

Several of this year’s Gold Award win­ners also shared their thoughts with Olive Oil Times. Evgenia Andriopoulou dis­cussed her pride in Makaria Terra’s sec­ond NYIOOC Gold Award for their medium Koroneiki in recent years. With their other awards, this proves our con­sis­tency and com­mit­ment to the pro­duc­tion of the finest olive oil every year,” which they achieve by treat­ing our olive trees with abun­dant respect,” as mem­bers of our fam­ily.”

Panayiotis Skopeteas cred­ited the unique com­bi­na­tion of soil, water, sun­shine, and sta­ble ambi­ent tem­per­a­ture” that make up the idyl­lic Mediterranean cli­mate” of Exohorio, Mani, Peloponnese for the qual­ity of our mirac­u­lous olive oil,” Gold Award win­ning Immortalitas, a del­i­cate Koroneiki.

Konstantine Melissinos was sur­prised by the Gold Award for Melissinos Estate Reserve, an Organic Medium Blend of ancient olive vari­eties, because our focus this year was to cre­ate an olive oil with high phe­no­lic con­tent to explore the med­i­c­i­nal aspects of the prod­uct. So we are very excited that we were able to pro­duce an olive oil that was rec­og­nized for both taste and qual­ity, and its health ben­e­fits.”

Vitsentzos Kornaros, a sec­ond-time NYIOOC Gold Award win­ner for Chrisopigi PDO Sitia Lasithiou Kritis, a medium Koroneiki, men­tioned that this dis­tinc­tion at the world’s largest EVOO com­pe­ti­tion gives our cus­tomers the sat­is­fac­tion of hav­ing made the right choice, and opens more paths for new col­lab­o­ra­tions.”

Fotis Mavroudis said Olympian Green was not sat­is­fied with last year’s 10 awards, since none came from the NYIOOC, but now we are really thrilled and hon­ored to be awarded the 2017 Gold NYIOOC Award” for Olympian Green Oly Oil Traditional, a medium Koroneiki, which he expects will strongly enhance” their inter­na­tional recog­ni­tion.

Panagiotis Kotsilimpas of Amphora Olympia believes these awards carry a great respon­si­bil­ity. A respon­si­bil­ity to do what is right always, espe­cially when no one is watch­ing.” Many pro­duc­ers do. For PJ Kabos’s James Panagiotopoulos and oth­ers, this work is more than just pro­duc­ing olive oil; it is a way of life.”


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