A mother and a daughter embraced their family estate creating a biologically certified wild olive oil with a strength and purity all of its own
Greece is renowned for its rustling silver leaved olive groves which are cultivated mostly by grafting. The horticultural ancestor of the domesticated olive tree ἐλαία in ancient Greek, is the wild olive, kotinos. Its leaves are slimmer and of a darker green than those of the conventional olive tree and its fruits, harvested earlier, are much smaller. Four to six kilograms of olives yield one litre of oil, 25 kilos of wild olives yield the same amount.
Sprawling over the mountainous shores of Lake Volvi, a mere 60 kilometers from Thessaloniki, Volvi Estate, measuring 4 million square meters and growing 65,000 wild olive trees to yield 100 tons of oil annually, is the largest such farm in the country. Wild olive oil is a nutrient endowed with medicinal benefits. It is said to protect the cardiovascular and nervous systems and has antioxidant and anti inflammatory properties. Apart from use as a superfood in salads and in cooked dishes, it is often consumed raw as a supplement.
The founders of the brand, Vivie and Athina Macromichelaki, opted for a slim, dark bottle, allowing the simple excellence of their product to declare itself and to protect the contents from harsh sunlight. Both the product and the packaging have received accolades. The estate also produces dried wild olive leaves which offer health benefits and can be brewed as tea.
Sprawling over the mountainous shores of Lake Volvi, a mere 60 kilometers from Thessaloniki, Volvi Estate, measuring 4 million square meters and growing 65,000 wild olive trees to yield 100 tons of oil annually, is the largest such farm in the country
The Volvi Estate has been in Vivie’s family for ninety years. When Vivie first took over the estate in 2000, she was convinced she would domesticate the wild olive trees and cultivate a traditional olive grove. However she respected the advice of eminent academics at Thessaloniki University to retain the wild trees. Believing in her product, she accepted the challenge and was aided by her daughter Athina. Both mother and daughter, who have professional business backgrounds, embraced the estate and revelled in the pungent and pure tasting oil when they first tried it. The small, round olives are rapidly harvested by the deft hands of workers from the region and are taken to the mills the same day to be cold pressed into olive oil with no delays or invasive treatments.
The small, round olives are rapidly harvested by the deft hands of workers from the region and are taken to the mills the same day to be cold pressed into olive oil with no delays or invasive treatments
The olive mill which presides in the middle of the estate, dates from Byzantine times, as do the groves. Nearby, two settlements and a church have been excavated. Volvi Estate passed into the family of Vivie in 1927 to General Ioannis Dimitrakopoulos, her grandfather, who liberated the town of Serres in 1913 during the Balkan Wars. As a reward for their military accomplishments, generals were offered tracts of land newly annexed to the Greek state, previously part of the Ottoman Empire. The property lies within a nature reserve and wetland of remarkable beauty, a habitat for many rare species, including those of fresh water fish.
The supple branches of the wild olive were used to fashion wreaths for the victors of the Ancient Olympic Games. The sacred olive grove of Olympia was situated near the temple of Zeus, patron of this sporting event. A young boy, whose parents were alive, cut the branches with golden scissors and placed them on an ivory table in the temple of Hera, Zeus’ wife. The judges of the games then twined the branches into wreaths.
Vivie and Athina are passionate and proud of their biologically certified product. The trees grow in a physically gorgeous space, are neither watered nor subjected to grafting to domesticate them and no traps or pesticides against fruit flies are used. The product has a strength and purity all of its own.