For three months now there have been stunning reports of the difficult, challenging, and horrible olive harvest in Italy. Decades have passed since such a crisis last occurred, and that, the Tuscan freeze of 1985, did not reach the broad geographical proportions of this one.
During the month of October, we learned of the losses on a daily basis. Each phone call and email told a tale of crop failures and weather issues. Few areas were immune. In general, windstorms, rain, a cool summer, and a hailstorm were the weather issues. A bug and a fungus took hold as well.
Videos of the 18 September 2014 hailstorm in Tuscany can be seen here and here.
As reported to us, the harvests in Sicily were early and small. Problems were noted from The Veneto to Puglia. Producers in Tuscany, Umbria, Marche, and Abruzzo piled on tales of woe.
Outstanding producers chose to bottle no oil in the fall of 2014: Tenuta di Capezzana, Poggio Etrusco, Avignonesi, Fattoria di Monti, Decimi, and others. We were informed of difficulties among many others who have valiantly produced much smaller quantities than normal. And, need we mention price increases?
There is a human toll that goes far beyond the kitchen table. Families, including farm workers, and bottlers, have experienced reduced wages from the poor harvest. Quality olive oil will likely cost more than ever.
Remembering that there are always variations in characteristics for year to year, the 2014s we have tasted provide a remarkable testament to the skills of the producers. Aromatic, fresh, grassy, bitter, and spicy can all be found in our lucky bottles.
We continue to remain optimistic as we have carefully sourced 30 selections so far this season. Our full line of new olive oils (many shown in photo) can be purchased here.
Frantoi Cutrera, Frescolio and Primo DOP
La Poderina Toscana Organic, Oro and Argento
Gianfranco Becchina’s Olio Verde Novello
Frescobaldi First Pressing
Azienda del Carmine, Ascolana and Olio del Carmine
di Giovanna (Gerbino Biologica)
Villa Zottopera Bio and Rosso
Fattoria Ramerino Primus and Cultivar Frantoio
Principe di Mascio, Novello and DOP
In the coming months we look forward to arrivals of many more selections from Italy, including favorites such as:
Gargiulo Sorrentolio Venus
La Pennita, Alina
Castello del Trebbio
Badia a Coltibuono
Our challenge is to continue to bring in the best Italian extra virgin olive oil in quantities to carry us through to the 2015 harvest.
For more information on the topic of the 2014 olive harvest, we recommend the following clicks:
New York Times: Amid bugs, hail, floods…
Los Angeles Times: Europe Suffers Olive Oil Disaster
NPR: Olive Oil Producers in Crisis