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"You feel drawn toward an olive tree because of its down-to-earth strength and tranquillity that radiate from it, due to its slow growth, due to its survival skill through continuous renewal from the trunk, and due to its age, which makes you feel great wisdom." Read More

Millennium olive tree


The encounter with Apulia’s millennia-old olive trees, the so-called 'giants of the Mediterranean', has something magical. They cover the slopes of the Murge Plateau with endless silvery green forests. With its veins of white limestone and its red earth, the Murge stretches as far as the sea, which creates a deep blue background to an absolutely stunning view.

While looking at the olive trees, we are also looking in the mirror at the history of our civilization. These trees tell us the more than 3,000-year-old story of our ancestors, carved in the wood of their mighty trunks. The fascinating thing about this story is that these very trees, from which the Messapii extracted oil long before the Greeks and the Romans, are still providing us with oil today. Which other plant in the world can boast of having this privilege?

The idea of ORO MESSAPICO (Messapic Gold) arose from our enthusiasm for these vivid contemporary witnesses of the past, and the desire to immortalize the life story of these ancient olive trees with a special olive oil. The uniqueness of our ORO MESSAPICO olive oils is that they come from trees that give us not only their oil, but also their life story. Taking care of these trees and keeping them alive means maintaining our own identity at the same time.

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Cultural History of a Fruit

"Since ancient times, olive trees have been more than just plants. Their oil stands for spiritual energy and light owing to its use as lamp oil, for purification and healing due to its use in body care and medicine, for fertility and longevity because of its resistance and survival skill, and for peace and victory on account of its mythological meaning." Read More

Old messapian fresco from Egnazia

 

The olive tree has  accompanied human history for a very long time. Fossils in North Africa dating from 12,000 BC as well as numerous cave paintings in the Sahara, in Spain and Crete show the olive tree. There is uncertainty however as to its true origin. It is presumed to originate from Asia Minor, i.e. between the Caucasus, the Iranian plateau and the Syrian and Palestinian coasts.

The contemporary olive tree (Olea europea) comes from the wild species Oleaster, of which petrified leaves have been found. These archaeological findings indicate that the wild form was probably cultivated in Crete and Syria around 6,000 BC for its fertile olive-oil, and spread from there throughout the Mediterranean region. In Apulia, the first oil producingolive trees appeared as early as the Neolithic period (New Stone Age) around 5,000 BC. They were discovered south of Bari in today’s Torre a Mare and north of Brindisi near Fasano. These discoveries indicate that oil and olives may already have been part of mankind’s food at that time.

In Egypt, the secret of the olive tree was disclosed to man by the goddess Isis, mother of the Earth (called Demeter in Greek). Olive oil was considered to be liquid gold at the time and was mainly used in beauty care. The Egyptians already knew many applications of it, including producing soap. Greek mythology asserts however that Athena planted the first olive tree. Its fruit would offer a wonderful juice to mankind, yielding food, healing, body care, light and warmth. The olive tree was a sanctuary for the Greeks. Anyone who damaged or uprooted it was sent into exile. The Romans took over these myths and uses from the Greeks and started to cultivate olive trees on a systematic basis as well as to distribute olive oil for commercial purposes.

In the Middle Ages, olive oil was still used as a remedy or a medicine for all strata of the population, but in Europe the olive tree was associated with heretical religions from the Mediterranean (Judaism, Islam, etc.) and therefore lost some of its cultural value. The olive groves disappeared almost completely, only a few olive trees were cultivated in Benedictine and Cistercian monasteries. Today, increasingly higher value is given to the olive tree and to olive oil, as research and analysis have repeatedly proven olive oil offers many benefits to the well-being of man. These benefits have been attributed to it since ancient times.

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The Messapii

After the Bronze Age (1,200 BC) the people called Messapii lived in Apulia. Most of them lived in the southern part of Apulia - the area around today’s cities Taranto, Brindisi and Lecce. The Messapii were a people of farmers and shepherds, also renowned as skilful horse breeders, tenacious fighters and archers.

It is presumed the name Messapii or Messapians means 'people between two seas', because they settled in today's Salento, between the Adriatic and Ionian seas. They merged with the existing population and founded the first cities, e.g. Brention/Brentesion (Brindisi), Kaìlia (Ceglie Messapica), Mandyrion (Manduria), Orra (Oria), Gnathia (Egnazia), Carbina (Carovigno) and Sturnium (Ostuni), while introducing their traditions, ways and customs. According to Herodotus, the Greek historian, the Messapii were a compact, unified people that originated from the Cretans. He even associated them with the mythical King Minos of Crete.

The economy of the Messapii was based on agricultural production, including olives (very similar to wild olives at the time), wine, pulses and vegetables on the one hand, and trade on the other hand. Centuries before the Romans and the Greeks (about 3,000 years ago), this ancient people began to transform the wild olive tree into a cultivated plant in several regions of Apulia. This plant was much more productive, and valuable oil could be obtained from its olives. Since the 7th century BC, the first systematic planting of today's olive tree was documented in Apulia.

Also the Roman agronomist Lucius Junius Moderatus Columella (1st century AD) gave an account of the state of agricultural knowledge and economy at the time, in his work 'De Re Rustica'. He mentioned a plateau north of today's Brindisi where the 'salentina' olive was grown, which is currently equated with the autochthonous Ogliarola del Salento. He described the planting technique with regular rows and the olive trees at distances of 60 feet (18 metres), which is precisely what we can still see in the old olive groves along the Roman Via Traiana. He also described the size and circumference of the trees, which indicates he discovered trees that were already centuries old in Roman times. Read More

Apulia

With 51% of the national production, the Apulia Region is currently the leading producer of extra virgin olive oil. With approximately 60 million trees, Apulia has the highest concentration of multimillennial olive trees in the world (about 10% of the total). Apulia's olive groves indeed represent one of the oldest traditional tree landscapes of the Mediterranean and form a complex system in which cultural history, nature and agriculture have been harmoniously interwoven with each other over the millennia.

On the 'Piana degli ulivi millenari', the plateau of millennia-old olive trees along the ancient Roman Via Traiana which was constructed in 109 AD and led to Brindisi, there are countless historical masserie (farmhouses) with underground oil-presses from Messapian-Roman times. The vicinity of the Via Traiana facilitated transport of the 'liquid gold' and stimulated trade with the Orient, and economic development and the evolution of the landscape in this zone of Apulia. Many of these underground presses remained in operation until the middle of the 18th century. From then onwards, more practical and more productive presses were being constructed above ground. The underground oil-press is, however, a testimony of the millennia-old cultivation of olives. As a particular feature of agricultural development, like the olive tree, it is part of the agricultural landscape of Apulia.

In order to protect this historical and anthropological  heritage as well as to combat illegal planting and commercialization, the Regional Council of Apulia adopted the first and only Italian law in 2007 (Regional Law No 14 laying down the 'Protection and enhancement of monumental olive groves in Apulia'). In addition, the centuries-old and millennia-old monumental olive trees were labelled with numbered tags and their location was pinpointed by means of GPS data and registered. Read More

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Tree & Soil

"Describing the Apulian landscape is like painting a picture. The intense colour contrasts of dark red earth, blue sea and sky, whitewashed houses and endless green olive groves are as extreme as the people themselves." Read More

Apulian landscape


The olive is an evergreen tree that thrives well particularly in maritime climates. It likes the hot and dry Mediterranean climate and does not like high humidity. It lives to an extremely old age and grows well especially on limestone soils. Apulia is a karstic limestone area and has a highly ferrous soil. The red earth and Apulia's position, almost like a peninsula in the Mediterranean Sea, are ideal for the cultivation of olives.

Moreover, the development of the olive tree requires specific thermal conditions. During flowering, at the end of May or beginning of June, the olive may not be exposed to temperatures below 10° Celsius (50° F); neither to temperatures below 15° Celsius (59° F) during the formation of the fruit and during ripening (change in colour from yellow-green to dark blue), also in order to allow the tree to complete the full ripening cycle. During harvest, the temperature should not be less than 5° Celsius (41° F).

Most varieties of olives cultivated in Apulia can be qualified as autochthonous on the basis of their being biologically and specifically adapted. All varieties having developed special characteristics in relation to soil, climate and method of cultivation, they are the result of a specific individual selection of hardy, vigorous plants. Generations of grafting and pruning experts helped to pass on a craftsmanship that is not described anywhere, as well as to shape a type of olive tree that is unique to Apulia.

The most common local varieties are part of the Ogliarole group and are named after the various Apulian geographic areas: Bari Ogliarola, Cima di Bitonto, Paisana, Cima di Mola and Ogliarola Salento. Next, there are varieties such as Peranzana, Coratina, Cima di Melfi and Cellina di Nardò.

Olive oil from Apulia is known for its intense, fruity and sharp taste, which is determined first of all by the grown varieties. It evokes a cool green and fruity olive flavour, while also being remarkably bitter and in the throat often very sharp, as if it were chilli oil. Freshly pressed and unfiltered, it is bright green and does not have anything in common with the oil one usually finds on the market.

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Harvest

Columella already called for the pickers to collect the olives at the time of 'invaiatura' (veraison, ripening) as he considered this was the optimum time to produce oleum viride, i.e. green oil. It was specified that the olives should be picked separately from the twig by hand. The olives in the treetops that could not be grasped were to be struck using a long flexible stick (ractriai in Greek), while being careful not to damage the olives.

We harvest the olives already starting from the middle of October or the beginning of November and deliberately refrain from getting a higher yield, which would be the case with harvesting later. The olives are removed from the trees by means of mechanical rakes and, for bigger trees, directly from the tree with small rakes and ladders. At the moment of 'invaiatura', the olives are slightly unripe or semi-ripe, so they are partially green and partially blue or black. If we were to wait for the fruit to ripen and let the olives fall to the ground, harvesting would be a lot easier. But the riper the olives, the higher their level of acidity and the poorer their quality and taste. Oil from the semi-ripe fruit has a much fruitier, fresher flavour and has a typical bitter and pungent taste at the time of harvesting.

In order to produce high quality oil, it is vital to choose the less comfortable and more costly way of picking. Only in this way will the olives suffer less damage, because when the skin of the olives is no longer intact, damaging oxidation and fermentation processes occur, diminishing the quality considerably. Another reason for early picking is that the falling of the olives'  is induced by an enzyme that has a negative impact on the olive oil’s preservability. To obtain a high quality olive oil, we bring the freshly picked olives to the oil-press on the same day. They are then turned into oil by purely mechanical processes within no more than 24 hours. Read More

Oil Production

First the olives are weighed in the oil-press, then cleaned free from leaves and stalks, and after that washed. Depending on the type of oil - Millennium, Primitivo or Evolution - our olives are crushed according to ancient traditional methods, with millstones. The resultant dark fruit paste is naturally decanted and removed by hand (Millennium) or pressed out through raffia mats or fiscoli (Primitivo), or else crushed in modern extraction mills after which the oil-water mixture is separated from the solid substances in a 'horizontal decanter' (Evolution). The stones are always ground with the olives, as they contain a useful preserving agent and determine taste as well. In both methods the outflowing liquid still consists of an oil-water mixture, which is only separated into oil and bitter juice during the natural decantation (Millennium) or in the separator by centrifugation (Primitivo and Evolution). Read More

The general rule is that an 'extra virgin' olive oil always solely comes from the first pressing and that the oil is not heated during the entire process. It is therefore called cold-pressed, extra virgin or native olive oil. The higher the temperature during the pressing, the more oil can be produced. But while doing so, too many precious flavours and substances will be lost. Since the term cold-pressed was covered by law, the temperature cannot exceed 27° Celsius (80° F).

Our olive oils have a distinctive character and a content in oleic acid that remains far below the 0,8 % acidity established by  legislation. The price of the oil or its label say little about its quality, the essential factors being the time and art of harvesting, the processing in the press and, ultimately, taste. A good olive oil has a scent of fresh olives and a typical bitter and pungent taste (at the time of harvesting) called pizzico.

This typical taste changes very rapidly. Any part of the harvest not bottled immediately after collecting will continue ripening in stainless steel barrels, while suspended solids are settling. The colour of the oil changes as well. Freshly pressed and unfiltered, it is bright grass-green and gradually turns golden yellow. It will become more harmonious and fuller on the palate, as the predominantly bitter taste disappears and elegant fruit aromas come to the fore more distinctly.

In general, olive oil changes constantly - slowly but steadily. Therefore, it is important to avoid temperature variations and to store it away from the light, in airtight containers. Only in this way can damaging oxidation processes be inhibited, otherwise the oil would age much faster.

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Olive Oils

"Mild olives do not exist, olives are bitter and extremely sharp. That is why oil from freshly picked olives always has a sharp taste, as a result of its phenolic anti-oxidant content. Moreover, while we keep the olive oil fresh, these major ingredients also keep us fresh!"

Oro Messapico - The Collection 2015,Oro Messapico Gift Box Millenium , Organic olive oil, Apulia olive oil, extra virgin, Millenium trees,

ORO MESSAPICO is a registered trade mark under which we commercialise three different olive oils. The processes we use for their manufacture are varied, so as to deliberately emphasize the characteristics of each process chosen for the corresponding oil. In this way there is an oil to suit everyone’s palate. Which oil someone likes best is a very personal choice. In order to get a better understanding of it, we organise oil tasting sessions after each harvest. This helps you to find the right oil among our three different olive oils.

ORO MESSAPICO MILLENNIUM is obtained exclusively from more than thousand-year-old trees and pays tribute to the very old olive trees of Apulia and to the generations of olive growers who have been preserving and maintaining these monuments. Therefore, we felt it was important to manufacture this oil following the thousand year old traditions. The harvest, to begin with, is a lot more laborious because the old trees are very large. We pick the olives standing on ladders or on a lifting platform, only by hand or with rakes. After being harvested, the olives are sorted by hand and ground in the stone mill. The resultant olive paste is pressed out in the oil press. Only the oil that comes to the surface within the first ten minutes is immediately skimmed off manually with flat ladles, then another three or four times naturally decanted until it is clear and slightly cloudy. By proceeding in this way, the oil molecules do not suffer any mechanical stress or modification at all. This very costly method of manufacture results in an exceptional oil with a very distinctive, fruity flavour. According to true connoisseurs, it is one of the finest olive oils. We recommend using it exclusively raw, with equally exceptional dishes like noble fish, carpaccio of fish and meat, sushi, etc.

Oro Messapico Gift Box Millenium , Organic olive oil, Apulia olive oil, extra virgin, Millenium trees,

 

ORO MESSAPICO MILLENNIUM is a precious gift for enthusiasts of genuine, traditionally manufactured olive oil and comes in a wooden presentation case. It includes a 0,5 l tin can with MILLENNIUM olive oil, a small 0,1 l bottle as a colour sample and a handmade ceramic amphora with an antique finish, together with a saucer and a sealing cork, as well as a small brochure about the millennia-old olive cultivation in Apulia.

ORO MESSAPICO PRIMITIVO is traditionally ground in the stone mill, pressed out in the oil press and then separated in a special decanter. This oil is not filtered, it remains naturally cloudy and has an earthy character as well as  very harmonious flavours. It has a medium strong taste of fresh olives, almonds and rocket, with rich and fruity, slightly velvety, piquant aromas. We recommend using it raw, because this oil is excellent especially for those who like a creamier olive oil. It matches perfectly with bruschetta, soups, vegetables and pulses, and also rural dishes with fish, meat or pasta. As unfiltered olive oil has a shorter shelf life, we recommend using smaller units.

ORO MESSAPICO EVOLUTION is produced in a modern oil-press, and after that is separated and filtered. It meets today's modern standard of olive oil. For this oil too, we choose the technology that best underlines the characteristics of the olives. The result is a clear olive oil with a slightly fruity though distinctly bitter-sharp aroma of fresh olives, freshly cut grass and artichokes. This more easy-flowing oil is perfect for those who appreciate the typical sharp taste of olive oil. It is suitable especially for cooking, grilling, roasting, frying and baking, for antipasti, salads, grilled meat or fish, pasta and vegetable dishes. This oil’s shelf life is much longer compared to that of oils produced in the stone mill, as fruit residues have been completely filtered out.

Best of BioPress Oliveoil 2017  - Bronze Medal for ORO MESSAPICO Evolution
BIOL 2017 Best Organic Extravirgin Oliveoil in the World - Gold Medal for ORO MESSAPICO Evolution

                                                                                   
Laboratory Analysis

Oil Tourism

How about taking a dive into the secrets of the Apulian kitchen, actively participating in an olive harvest and discovering by the fireside at a traditional oil tasting what a really good olive oil consists of? Just come to Apulia and let yourself be carried away by the unique fragrances, flavours and colours of this wonderful region. Read More

Situated on the southern border of Europe, in the middle of the Mediterranean region, Apulia has always been a bridge between the East and the West. Culinary peculiarities and traditions that different cultures brought here over thousands of years were blended with each other to create an original, varied and surprising kitchen. The key component is always olive oil, the ultimate Mediterranean elixir of life!

We organise genuine olive oil experiences: a seven-day cooking course week, a week harvesting olives, a professional oil tasting session, or simply a one day cooking class or harvesting experience to enrich your holiday. We have plenty of good ideas, so just ask us!

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Olive Groves

'Anyone who has observed the patience, love and respect with which the fruit of the olive tree is collected, will understand that in some regions it is believed the harvest volume depends on the moral and inner attitude of the pickers.' Read More

 our organic olive groves


The olive groves of the ORO MESSAPICO co-partnership are all committed to organic cultivation methods and are spread over different cultivation areas between the Murge Plateau, Apulia's east coast and Salento. This allows us to select for each of our oils the olives that are optimum for the respective oil, thanks to the location of the trees and climatic conditions. As a general rule, all our olive oils are pure products of nature, obtained from sun, water and a lot of passion! To us, natural means without any use of chemical products, even not those allowed in organic farming. Who knows us, also knows that we only use organic products as a fertiliser for the olive trees and where possible the manure of our long-ears, who exclusively live on organic fodder.

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Partners

The Giardini di Marzo olive groves, situated between Ceglie Messapica and Francavilla Fontana near Brindisi, are at the stage of conversion to organic farming and extend with approximately 170 trees over the southeast foothills of the Murge at 200 metres above sea level, between Valle d'Itria and Salento as well as between the Adriatic and Ionian seas. This privileged location provides constant airstream throughout the year, which is of benefit to the olives. The main olive varieties are Ogliarola, Cellina di Nardò, Cornale, but there are also rather rare varieties such as Biancolilla and wild olives from the Oleastro tree.

The certified organic olive groves of the Masseria Galante in Ceglie Messapica near Brindisi, with approximately 3,500 trees (partly millenary) at 310 metres above sea level, extend over the rolling hillsides of Valle d'Itria (Trulli Valley). They are a wonderful example of olive groves laid out almost like a park, surrounded by the maquis and small woods of oak trees, which creates a healthy biodiversity. The climatic conditions with cool nights allow for later harvesting here, as the invaiatura of the olives normally does not start until the beginning of November. The main olive varieties are Ogliarola, Cellina di Nardò, Cornale.

The certified organic olive groves of the Antica Masseria Brancati with approximately 2,000 trees are situated near Ostuni, Brindisi at only 40 metres above sea level on the plateau of Apulia's eldest olive trees, called the 'Piana degli ulivi millenari'. In this tree population there are some specimens of several thousand years old. We produce a limited quantity of our Oro Messapico Millennium oil from these trees. The main olive varieties are Cima di Melfi, Cellina di Nardò, Coratina and Ogliarola. The Masseria Brancati is even the owner of an underground oil-mill that goes back to Messapian-Roman times, testifying that already 3,000 years ago olive oil was produced in Apulia.
 

Giardini di Marzo
Masseria Galante
Pantaleo Agricoltura Biologica
Antica Masseria Brancati
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