How Ogglio Oil all began…
My name is Giuseppe Trapani, and I have been working and living in Oxford for more than a decade now. I work for Oxford University Press, but recently, I have started an olive oil project in my spare time, outside of working hours.
I am originally from Sicily, and I come from a family of farmers. As tradition wants, the land is passed on from generation to generation, and I recently inherited a small olive grove planted by my great-great-grandfather more than a century ago. I hope that one day it will become my son’s.
In 2017 we had a bumper harvest and were left with a lot of surplus olive oil. The olive oil we produce is just for us and the family, but that year we had so much that we didn’t know what to do with it. So I asked around to friends and colleagues, and to my surprise, I received a lot of orders, way more than I was hoping for! With this encouragement, my wife and I decided to design a logo for a proper bottle and with the help of a friend we created a website (www.ogglio.org).
Deciding to expand beyond the workplace, we spent a few weekends going to local events (olive oil tastings with local expert Malcolm Gilmour, St. Barnabas Summer Fete, Botley Food Fayre, Seven Stars Pub Market in Marsh Baldon, WOCA Christmas Market, etc.) where we met a lot of lovely people.
In fact, what I like most about this project is that I can meet a lot of fantastic local people. I can do this while providing the community I live in with healthy real extra virgin olive oil, of which the provenance can be easily traced. I am also trying to have a social impact not only in Oxford but also in Sicily, giving work during the harvest to local unemployed people and also migrants, ensuring they are paid a proper wage. Because of my work, I cannot be there during the harvest, but my family and friends have been helping me so far.
The name “Ogglio” means “oil” in Sicilian. We don’t really make any distinction with other oils, as olive oil is such a staple of Sicilian cuisine that it doesn’t need any introduction (or clarification). We decided to go for a simple label on purpose, without adding complicated language or information that you don’t really need – further detail can be made available if requested. After all this is pure olive oil, a type of naturally long-lasting fresh fruit juice, nothing else is added to it.
No technical terminology means no confusion, and no ugly logos (for DOP or EU Organic) means a better-looking bottle that will look fabulous on your kitchen table. Also, we proudly mention the month and year of production in the front of the label: you’ll find that on very few extra virgin olive oils that are sold in supermarkets.
The trees in my own olive grove were planted more than a century ago by my great-great-great grandfather. Although a lot of the groves in the area where I live have a similar story, many are younger and were planted in a more efficient way (more trees per hectare, pruned to be shorter, etc.) but they are all the same tended organically and with great care. The groves are situated on land between two small villages in Sicily called Poggioreale and Salaparuta.
The Nocellara del Belice is arguably one of the World finest olive cultivars (i.e. variety); indigenous to the Belice Valley in Western Sicily, it is a dual-purpose olive, grown both for oil and for the table. Such olives are a beautiful lime green with a mild, buttery flavour: they are ideal to make a medium-strength Extra Virgin Olive Oil which is a perfect all-rounder and can be used for cooking as well as raw on salads, dips and many other dishes.
The Nocellara del Belice olive has a PDO status: this is a ‘Protected Designation of Origin’ status designated by the European Union. A PDO refers to olive oils with “exceptional properties and quality derived from their place of origin as well as from the way of their production.” The olives used for our olive oil are always collected early during the picking season (usually in October), producing an intense and early harvest and oil, as the olives are less ripe and produce a smaller in volume, but higher in flavour olive oil.
Last but not least, we know exactly where those olives come from: no dubious provenance here!
The Olive Oil
Our organic extra virgin olive oil comes from the Belice Valley in Sicily from olives grown, harvested, and cold-pressed (at less than 25°C) locally, on the same day of picking, within a five-mile radius from the grove.
This artisanal olive oil is not too strong, but rather medium-flavoured with a fruity taste, a grassy scent, and a peppery finish. It tastes as if you have just squeezed the freshly picked olives with your own hands, unsurprisingly, since it’s basically a naturally long-lasting fresh fruit juice rich in healthy nutrients: antioxidants, vitamin E, polyphenols, you name it.
Being a pure extra virgin, the acidity of our olive oil is exceptionally low, always lower than 0.8%, usually around 0.5%. We plan to make an olive oil that is 100% organic: we’ll use only olives that haven’t seen pesticides, been irrigated or traumatised in any other way (they are to be harvested entirely by hand). Also, we’ll produce it only by mechanical means (milling the olives in a malaxer): we would never dream of using disgusting solvents or chemicals!
Where to Buy
You can buy directly from us on our website: www.ogglio.org. You can also place an order by contacting us: firstname.lastname@example.org. We sometimes go to local fairs in Oxford and nearby, usually in the Summer. This is a very small operation, and we want you to pay a fair price: that means our olive oil won’t be available for sale in supermarkets or any other retailer, as they will raise considerably the price you pay.
We are trying to be as eco-friendly as possible, so please do refill and reuse those bottles, which is much more eco-friendly than recycling. Also, if you do not wash the bottle but keep on adding olive oil (nothing else, of course), over time it will acquire a very special homely taste.
Furthermore, by buying those 3-litre cans you’ll save quite considerably on the price of the olive oil (around £30 per litre for the bottles, £15 per litre for the cans!).
The 2018 Harvest & Kickstarter Campaign (very important)
Unfortunately, with organic farming, you occasionally do get lean years, and it came to no surprise when a phone call announced me a couple of months ago that this year we won’t have enough olive oil surplus to share with you. So I thought: in order to make this more of a social enterprise, what would be nicer than involving other local farmers, people I have known all of my life, whose great-great-grandfathers knew mine?
They might have some surplus olives that we can buy and use to make the olive oil for 2018. After all, they are the same type of olives, carefully tended by people I know and trust.
I managed to locate some farmers who can help, but of course, the final quantity of olives to be purchased will depend on you and your interest in our olive oil. We are currently running a Kickstarter campaign until the 31 st of October, in order to 2018 harvest going.
If you’d like to contribute, here’s the link: kickstarter.com/projects/ogglio/2018-olive-oil-harvest
If you like the sound of our project, we’d be immensely grateful if you could share it on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest or any other social media outlet you prefer (and of course, also via email!).