On Thursday, the world lost Moshe Aaron Spak, the founder of the Israeli Competitions TerraOlivo and TerraVino, to a battle with cancer.
Since the first notice, social media has been ringing from all corners, as friends and colleagues share their memories of this beloved man. Words repeated themselves in many languages to describe the mark he left on both the olive oil and wine worlds: entrepreneur, stubborn, ambassador, a great help, and passionate.
He always experimented with new ways and was able to create — almost 10 years ago — a movement in the Holy Land dedicated to quality oil.
Spak was born in Argentina but uprooted and transplanted himself to Israel, a land that he truly loved and believed in wholeheartedly. It is here where this savvy businessman endeavored to promote the holy land´s wine and olive oil throughout the world.
Haim Gan, a friend and wine expert, said during their first meeting Moshe had said he was a charcoal importer from Argentina who had come to talk to him about wine. Gan could only wonder what this kind-eyed man wanted with him. Moshe was certain that he could get Israeli wines on the international market with his contacts and by starting a wine competition.
It was Moshe´s grit and “chutzpah” that made him successful. He saw possibilities where others did not, was willing to take the chance and did not give up. His wine competition was first met with criticism and although he took this condemnation to heart, he kept going. Almost two decades later, TerraVino was ranked as one of the top 10 wine competitions in the world.
He did not stop at wine. By 2010, with the help of renown, professionals like Raul Castellani, Eyal Hasson, Antonio Guiseppe Lauro and Haim Gan, Spak decided to launch the Israeli olive oil competition, TerraOlivo.
Despite Moshe being ill he made sure that this past June TerraOlivo celebrated its 9th edition with 20 countries represented in the competition.
“A friend not only mine but of the whole world of olive oil, a sector which, to him, surely owes something, perhaps a lot,” Antonio G. Lauro wrote on his blog. “He always experimented with new ways and was able to create — almost 10 years ago — a movement in the Holy Land dedicated to quality oil. There, in the land of the fathers, where it all began, with the evocative name: TerraOlivo.”
And although TerraOlivo lost Raul Castellani in 2016 and now its founder, Moshe would say the star of the show is not the producer, the taster or even him, it is the olive oil. And of course, this show will go on.
Those who knew him well and those who only spoke to him by email will miss his passion and drive. However, he has planted two well-rooted, productive competitions that will continue far into the future, giving his life eternal meaning.