Sustainability Key to Success of Central Italy’s Award-Winning Producers

Producers from Central Italy reflected on success at the 2022 NYIOOC and looked ahead to the coming harvest.

Umbria, Italy
By Ylenia Granitto
Sep. 13, 2022 14:29 UTC
Umbria, Italy

Part of our con­tin­u­ing spe­cial cov­er­age of the 2022 NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition.

Producers from cen­tral Italy were undis­puted pro­tag­o­nists at the 2022 NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition. Once again, they earned many awards as a result of their care for the land and focus on the sus­tain­able use of resources.

Olive grow­ers with a long story of suc­cesses were joined by first-time win­ners, all of whom are aware of the cru­cial role farm­ers play as pro­tec­tors of the envi­ron­ment.

We are thrilled to have won this pres­ti­gious award,” said Laurence Deprez Zenezini, of Cultura Viva, after receiv­ing a Gold Award for her Le Clarisse blend.

See Also:The Best Olive Oils from Italy

Our ref­er­ence mar­ket is the United States, and this pushed us to par­tic­i­pate in the NYIOOC, which is an impor­tant show­case for the inter­na­tional mar­ket,” she added.

After liv­ing in many coun­tries around the world, she set­tled in Umbria with her fam­ily. Last year, in June, we attended a course for olive oil tasters, and in October, we car­ried out our very first har­vest,” she said.

Located in Collazzone, in the province of Perugia, her prop­erty includes a small ham­let with the for­mer monastery of the Poor Clares, from which the name of the oil comes and a farm­house sur­rounded by 40 olive trees. Another 600 plants of Moraiolo, Leccino and Frantoio, are spread over the hill below.


Co-founder Stefano Zenezini harvesting olives at Cultura Viva

The first project was to recover this place,” Deprez Zenezini said. Then we started prun­ing the trees doing con­sis­tent reform work. Last year, also due to weather issues, we har­vested 25 per­cent of the capac­ity of the grove.”

They recently added a new plot with 120 trees of the Don Carlo vari­ety, planted in a tra­di­tional pat­tern to pre­serve the orig­i­nal land­scape shape. Protection of the land and its bio­di­ver­sity under­lies the vision of Cultura Viva, which means liv­ing cul­ture.

We want to make cul­ture,” Deprez Zenezini said. With the olive leaves from har­vest and prun­ing, we also pro­duce a unique kom­bucha. In doing this, my hus­band Stefano and I are sup­ported by our two chil­dren, who help us with the com­mu­ni­ca­tion of the prod­ucts.”

Our daugh­ter cre­ated the pack­ag­ing of Le Clarisse through which we want to express purity, har­mony, and sim­plic­ity,” she added.

Following the prin­ci­ples of regen­er­a­tive agri­cul­ture, the fam­ily com­pany has adopted a cir­cu­lar econ­omy approach, where noth­ing goes to waste and every­thing is reused, includ­ing rain­wa­ter.

Drought is now the main prob­lem,” Deprez Zenezini said. Considering the ris­ing pro­duc­tion costs, we are aware that we have started at a com­plex time. Yet we are very con­fi­dent in the future and, also build­ing on these suc­cesses, we are look­ing for­ward to the upcom­ing har­vest.”

Along with first-time recip­i­ents, long­time NYIOOC win­ners from cen­tral Italy cel­e­brated suc­cess at the world’s largest olive oil qual­ity com­pe­ti­tion.

Among these were the pro­duc­ers from Domenica Fiore, also in Umbria, who earned three Gold Awards for their Olio Novello, Novello di Notte and Olio Reserva brands.


Nightime harvesting at Domenica Fiore

Once again, this year, we have man­aged to cre­ate high-pro­file prod­ucts,” Cesare Bianchini told Olive Oil Times. We are very happy with this result that makes us very proud.”

A mas­ter miller and blender, Bianchini fol­lows the whole pro­duc­tion process of the multi-awarded blends.


We col­lect the dif­fer­ent vari­eties – Leccino, Frantoio, Moraiolo, and Canino – sep­a­rately,” he said. We care­fully com­bine them later to cre­ate bal­anced and com­plex sen­sory pro­files that we could not obtain by ran­domly mix­ing the vari­eties.”

The olive trees thrive opti­mally at 400 meters above sea level in rich, sandy soil – mil­lions of years ago, prob­a­bly in the Plio-Pleistocene era, the land that hosts these orchards was a seabed, and it is still pos­si­ble to find ancient shells in the ground.

After har­vest­ing, the fruits are crushed in the com­pany mill, which is equipped with the lat­est tech­nol­ogy. After the extrac­tion, the by-prod­ucts are used as nat­ural com­post.

We spread the wet residue as a fer­til­izer for our groves,” Bianchini said. We have cre­ated a cir­cu­lar sys­tem in which wastes are reused.”

The intense heat of the past months forced Domenica Fiore’s team to carry out emer­gency irri­ga­tion and use kaolin pow­der as a cor­rob­o­rant to avoid the exces­sive inso­la­tion of the plants. This resulted in more work but enabled them to have healthy olives ahead of the har­vest.

Veraison in Leccino and Frantoio usu­ally occurs early,” Bianchini said. Since day­time tem­per­a­tures can still exceed 25 °C at the end of September, it can be a prob­lem. This prompted us to sched­ule part of the har­vest at night, with lower tem­per­a­tures.”

Night oper­a­tions offer advan­tages dur­ing the extrac­tion, while the col­lec­tion of fruits is more com­pli­cated,” he added. Extra atten­tion is required dur­ing the oper­a­tions in the dark, for which we must use a light tower. However, the result is excel­lent and makes us delighted, since we obtain an excel­lent prod­uct that is suc­cess­ful in the mar­ket.”

In Lazio, Paolo de Filippis received a Gold Award for his Itrana mono­va­ri­etal pro­duced on the Carroccia Campodimele estate.


Award-winning results from polyculture on the Carroccia Campodimele estate

Obtaining this award is the great­est sat­is­fac­tion for a farm like ours,” he said. We are deter­mined to remain a niche com­pany. Since our ref­er­ence mar­ket is abroad, espe­cially in Germany, we have entrusted our extra vir­gin olive oil to the NYIOOC for its world­wide rep­u­ta­tion.”

Located between the towns of Lenola and Campodimele, in the province of Latina, the prop­erty com­prises rolling hills held up by ancient dry stone walls, giv­ing the land­scape an evoca­tive beauty.

Most of our olive trees are arranged on the ter­races,” de Filippis said. They are inter­spersed with sev­eral types of plum trees, quinces, almonds, wal­nuts and aro­matic plants, espe­cially laven­der and rose­mary. ”

We con­sider these impor­tant to attract pol­li­nat­ing insects and will use them to pro­duce essen­tial oils,” he added.

Several fig trees com­plete the com­po­si­tion of the orchard. The figs are har­vested and dried for the Christmas period and used fresh to make jam.

The sus­tain­able man­age­ment of the prop­erty, accord­ing to the prin­ci­ples of poly­cul­ture, pro­motes a rich bio­di­ver­sity,” de Filippis said.

My daugh­ter is in charge of the com­pa­ny’s mar­ket­ing and com­mu­ni­ca­tion, through which we aim to con­vey our organic voca­tion and com­mit­ment to sus­tain­abil­ity,” he added. Even our bot­tle is cre­ated in an eco-friendly way, with details in Murano glass and cork that replace plas­tic.”

Ahead of the cur­rent har­vest, Lazio has faced the same chal­lenges caused by the per­va­sive drought, result­ing in a lower vol­ume of olives.

I think the future will see the intro­duc­tion of rain­wa­ter recov­ery sys­tems,” he said. We are orga­niz­ing our­selves as pro­duc­ers, but I think it is cru­cial that also the local and state gov­ern­ments sup­port us in this action.”

Nevertheless, his Itrana fruits are now healthy after being refreshed by timely late-sum­mer rains that immensely helped them recover from the water stress of the pre­vi­ous months.

Around mid-October, when verai­son will reach 20 to 30 per­cent, we should start the har­vest,” de Filippis said. This is the trend of the area, where most pro­duc­ers are now focused on high qual­ity, obtain­ing prod­ucts with excel­lent organolep­tic pro­files.”

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