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Olive Harvest Gets Social in Italy

Oct. 15, 2013
Luciana Squadrilli

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These are the days when olive har­vest in Italy — and in all the Mediterranean area where the clever early-pick­ing habit gained ground — is really get­ting going, despite the unfa­vor­able weather con­di­tions with heavy rains and hail­storms imped­ing or slow­ing down the work.

The weather was sunny and warm all along the coun­try until two weeks ago and the blos­som­ing was excel­lent: this lead many to fore­cast a very good year for Italian olive oil, hope­fully not to be ruined by the exces­sive rain­falls and cold.

It will be nec­es­sary to wait some more weeks for the offi­cial esti­mate and appraisal but we can already take note of a pecu­liar and inter­est­ing trend in the 2013 har­vest in Italy: many pro­duc­ers – both those who already bot­tled their oil, and those who are now start­ing to pick the olives – are using the web and the main social media to com­mu­ni­cate and share the work in progress of the har­vest and its val­ued outcome.

Frantoio Gaudenzi, a fam­ily-run oil mill in Umbria pro­duc­ing excel­lent extra-vir­gin olive oils, just released its brand new Quinta Luna (the com­pa­ny’s top label, an intense and pow­er­ful blend of Frantoio, Moraiolo and Leccino). This year they decided to launch it orga­niz­ing a Quinta Luna Day” when ten selected Italian restau­rants pro­posed a spe­cial menu or recipe cre­ated to honor the prod­uct and to enhance its fea­tures, start­ing from the old favorite, tra­di­tional bruschetta with toasted bread and freshly milled Quinta Luna.

As the youngest mem­bers of the fam­ily, Stefano and Andrea, who lately joined the fam­ily busi­ness, decided to imple­ment the com­pa­ny’s pres­ence on Facebook and Twitter to launch the event with a pho­to­graphic con­test: the Gaudenzi’s fans could take a pic­ture fea­tur­ing a dish, or even them­selves, with the Quinta Luna bot­tle to show their pas­sion for this extra-vir­gin olive oil, hope­fully shar­ing their recipes, too.

Olio Flaminio, another oil mill and pro­ducer from Umbria that in 2012 launched the #evolover hash­tag on Twitter, also chose to use Pinterest to nar­rate the far­m’s activ­i­ties and espe­cially the har­vest, with a count­down to the olive pick­ing that started on the 8th October.

Also Parco dei Buoi, the mill and farm in Molise run by Francesco Travaglini — one of the first Italian grow­ers to use the Internet launch­ing the 2.0 farm­ers” project — decided to pub­lish online the work in progress har­vest of the olives for the Tratturello, the ele­gant and well bal­anced blend of Gentile di Larino and Leccino olives. The aim of the teevo.it web­site is to present a vir­tual shared har­vest” to let every­one know the strain and effort that lay behind a bot­tle of extra-vir­gin olive oil, set­ting up the first olive grove of the Web.”

The Tratturello bot­tle itself — in a car­toon style — will tell every­thing about the pick­ing process quot­ing data about the dif­fer­ent olive vari­eties and their out­put, the sen­so­r­ial and organolep­tic eval­u­a­tions, and the chem­i­cal analy­ses made day by day. The same infor­ma­tion will be also acces­si­ble through a QR code on the label. Also at Parco dei Buoi, the har­vest — due to start on the 4th October, the day devoted to St. Francesco d’Assisi accord­ing to tra­di­tion — was delayed to the 8th and went on in the rain, giv­ing 11 liters of extra-vir­gin olive oil per every 100 kilos on the first day.

In the mean­time, another hash­tag (and a ded­i­cated blog) appeared in Twitter lauched by the @EDTlibri account: #extraverginita. The inde­pen­dent pub­lish­ing com­pany — also pub­lish­ing the Lonely Planet guides in Italy — just released the well-known inves­tiga­tive book Extra Virginity by Tom Muller. Even tough the book had been widely set and con­ceived in Italy, it had been orig­i­nally pub­lished in English and then trans­lated into German, Portuguese, Japanese and other lan­guages, but it is only now avail­able in Italian.



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