This Year’s IL DIVINO Extra Virgin Olive Oil Production – 2016
We just returned a few days ago from our annual trip to Italy to coordinate the production of our 2016 IL DIVINO Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Every time we go and meet Italians in the olive oil business and Italian consumers, we learn so much.
The olive oil we produced this year promises to be excellent but not necessarily for the traditional reasons. In talking to our Italian growers, the ideal conditions for olive production is a year of relatively cold, but not severely freezing, winters and long, hot, dry summers. These weather conditions not only promote the development of the highest quality olives, but also minimize the harm that may be caused to the developing olives by insects and fungi.
The timing of the olive harvest is also important. It is considered ideal to harvest in October and November to maximize the polyphenols in the oil. Polyphenols are one type of numerous health-protective antioxidants that are found in extra virgin olive oil. Like other antioxidants, polyphenols fight oxidative stress and may fight against aging-related diseases like heart disease, high blood pressure and cholesterol, and certain types of cancer.
However, the timing of the olive harvest is a two-edged sword for growers. The earlier the olives are harvested, the higher the “quality” of the oil produced but this limits the overall volume of oil/juice produced. The later the harvest, the greater the amount/volume of oil produced since the olives are “juicier” but this later harvest oil is considered by the Italians and other experts to be inferior.
In Italy, as in a lot of the world, the 2015/2016 winter was very mild. I personally believe this is a manifestation of global warming. Cold winters in Italy serve to control the following summer insect populations so mild winters can result in potential insect, particularly fruit fly, over abundance. Therefore, due to the mild 2015/2016 winter, olive growers were somewhat nervous about potential problems with “flies” at harvest time approached.
In addition to the mild 2015/2016 winter, the 2016 summer was also quite mild in Italy. Again, these mild conditions led to potential problems with fruit flies since “hot” summers also serve to limit the “fly” population.
Since IL DIVINO is committed to total organic production of our olive oil, we always select olives for our oil produced by Tuscan farmers using no insecticides. These olive growers must therefore be constantly on the lookout for potential fly problems particularly around harvest time.
Based on all these factors, our growers elected to harvest a couple weeks earlier than normal (mid-October vs late-October) to ensure there would be absolutely no fly problem. This resulted in our production of extremely high anti-aging, anti-inflammatory polyphenol content oil which tastes amazing.
At our olive oil tastings newcomers are often surprised when they experience a slight cough or tingling in the throat after taking a sip of a high quality extra virgin olive oil. It’s actually quite common, as is the spicy peppery flavor that usually accompanies a high-quality extra virgin olive oil. This sensation stems from the antioxidant polyphenols. So for 2016, our IL DIVINO Extra Virgin Olive Oil is very high in polyphenols resulting in a spicy, peppery taste indicative of the highest quality oils.
For our growers, 2016 was a bit of a disappointment since they harvested early, as discussed above, resulting in less oil and therefore less income. For us, while we are very excited about the quality of the oil we have for you, the limited production in Italy (due to the early harvest) resulted in our oil cost being about 12.5% higher than in 2015. We have absorbed this additional cost into our retail price as we attempt to offer our customers the highest possible quality oil at a price just slightly over our total production, transportation, and packaging costs.
As many of our closest IL DIVINO friends know, our two primary goals in offering our extra virgin olive oil to our customers are the following:
- To be source of the highest quality Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oil for those who have never known 100% pure, fresh Italian olive oil and for those who already truly appreciate the wonder of this amazing oil;
- Provide an outlet for our small Italian olive growers and frantoio operators so that they can benefit from our production and share in our success.
The 2016 IL DIVINO Extra Virgin Oil is intensely bright green due to the early olive harvest and is certainly more complex in taste than any oil we have offered before. This wonderful taste, coupled with the high polyphenol content, are at least two factors we hope you will appreciate in our efforts to provide you the highest quality extra virgin olive oil in the world.