Our olives are grown primarily in two remote mountain groves near Kastania. They are called Avorna and Soteira. Both groves are well known among locals for producing olives of superior quality. The rich and distinctive flavor of our oil is due primarily to the unique terroir of our groves, in particular their sun-drenched western exposure, steep mountain slopes and well-drained rocky soil.
The map above illustrates where Avorna and Soteira are located. The closest town is Gytheion, which is famous for being the old port of the Spartans. It was also the legendary location from which Helen of Sparta was taken by Hector of Troy to start the Trojan war.
Our olives are harvested each year in December and January. Knowing when to harvest is an acquired skill that our grower Kostas Arfanis has perfected over the years. In short, he waits until a certain fraction of the olives have turned from green to red and black. Loosely speaking, the greener olives give our oil its peppery qualities, while the redder and blacker olives provide its sweetness.
The harvest typically lasts several weeks. Remarkably, the harvest process has remained virtually unchanged since the days of the ancient Greeks. In short, the olive branches are whacked repeatedly and the olives are collected in nets as they fall. Every day the freshly harvested olives are taken to the mill to be pressed immediately. The whole process is done entirely by hand.
Our mill is located in the village of Kokkina Louria, near Kastania (see the map.) Our miller, Panayiotis Rogakos, first washes all the olives in cold spring water, and then "presses" them at ambient temperatures. Pressing involves crushing the olives, mixing them into a paste, and then extracting the oil from the paste. Our freshed pressed oil is a green so deep it has to be seen to be believed!