We’ve recently been in touch with Baioco, the wonderful Istrian olive oil producers who were originally founded as far back as 1918. Read our interview with Baioco to find out more about the company and their production processes, as well as their excellent, award-winning olive oils – and how to sample and buy them!
1. I understand that the company Baioco was founded as far back as 1918, how did it come to exist?
The mill was founded with the aim of forming a cooperative where the farmers could produce their oil. They came to an agreement with a businessman of the time who decided to invest in the cooperative.
Years later the cooperative changed ownership and continued to produce oil in smaller quantities, until years later, in 1997, it passed into the hands of the current directors of Baioco in an interest to revive a tradition that over time was lost. From that moment the mill began to modernise to optimise its processes and the quality of the oil obtained, whilst at the same time preserving tradition and reducing the impact to the environment every year.
2. Whereabouts are your wonderful olive groves based?
Our olive trees are located on the Istrian peninsula bathed by the Adriatic Sea in Croatia.
What makes our olive groves different is that they are located on small plots of land surrounded by wild aromatic plants that give our extra virgin olive oils different aromas and flavors. [Visit Croatia note: doesn’t this sound wonderful?!]
3. Can you tell us a bit about the process for making your lovely olive oil?
As they are grown in small olive groves surrounded by nature, the olives are harvested by hand so they are not stressed and reach our oil mill without any impact.
Once the olives have arrived at the mill, the fruit is washed with water and the olives are crushed.
The paste that is formed is taken for kneading for approximately 20 minutes, this allows the oil to separate from the paste. This operation is carried out at a controlled temperature of 22-23ºC, obtaining less quantity of oil than with high temperatures, but of optimum quality.
Finally, this paste goes to the centrifuge where the oil is completely separated from the paste and is ready for bottling.
It is important to carry out all the processes in the shortest time possible so that the fruit does not oxidize and we obtain a high quality oil.
At Baioco, the olive goes from being in the tree to being bottled as extra virgin olive oil in only two hours!
4. Tell us a little bit about the awards Baioco’s olive oils have won?
In 2018, Baioco began to enter competitions as we saw it as a form of recognition for all the hard work we had done.
That same year we entered the Flos Olei list, known as the guide to the best extra virgin olive oils in the world. From that moment until now we have remained in the guide every year.
We have also collected several awards, both silver and gold in NYIOOC (New York), AVPA oils of the world (Paris), LIOOC, Best Oils of the World (London) and L’oro del Mediterraneo, (Italy) with the maximum number of gold drops and mentions of excellence, as well as other local competitions in Croatia.
5. How can customers come and taste your oils? (And can they visit the olive groves?)
We have two places where you can taste our extra virgin olive oils.
One is in the center of Vodnjan where we also have our store. For those who are interested in knowing more about the production, in Galizana we have our oil mill and you can enjoy a guided tour and a tasting with more typical products.
6. What is your most popular product?
Our most popular product is our extra virgin olive oil. We have three varieties, two monovarietal and one Cuvèe.
The two monovarietal varieties, Busa and Bianchera, are indigenous to the Istrian Region and are therefore difficult to find in productions from other countries or regions.
Moreover, our extra virgin olive oils are organic and have the protected designation of origin of Istra.
Thank you so much to Celia and Baioco for taking the time to answer our questions, and also for supplying the images seen on this post. We highly recommend that you pay them a visit if you are visiting Istria this summer!