Buy extra virgin olive oil from olive mills in Jaén| Campos de Uleila

The company is one of the 18 finalists for the 2011 International Olive Council Mario Solinas Quality Award.

On June 17, the company will receive the diploma certifying its oil as a finalist for the 2011 Mario Solinas International Olive Council Quality Award in the 'mature' category. This year's edition had 97 participants, 42 from Spain, 39 from Portugal, nine from Greece, three from Turkey, and one each from France, Israel, Italy and Morocco.

"This is the first contest we have participated in and we are very satisfied with the result," says the company's manager, Mariola Hidalgo. Her father founded the company in 1999. His "passion" for the countryside led him to buy the 'Cortijo del Aguador' farm. "He was surprised by the special place where it is located," says Mariola.

From that moment on, the extension grew with successive extensions. "We started the farm, planted olive trees... and when we discovered the quality of the oil from this land, we decided to start production".

Currently the property, which totals 120 hectares, has 53 hectares dedicated exclusively to the production of extra virgin olive oil.

The exceptional nature of Campos de Uleila lies in the philosophy that they have forged from the beginning, very respectful of the environment in which it is located, the Tabernas desert and the Sierra de Los Filabres.

The company's technician, Juan Vallejo, explains some of the keys to the success of the products. "When planting the olive trees, the natural topography of the area was respected. Not a single clearing was done. The land was left as it was, with its vegetation, and no tillage was done, the spontaneous plant cover was left." This diversity gives the olives a very characteristic "apple or forest fruit" touch and, at the same time, minimizes soil erosion caused by climatic factors such as rain.

Another of the factors that most influence the development of the product is the system of harvesting and extraction of the oil. It is done by varieties, each one of them separately (Picual, Arbequina, Hojiblanca).

With the help of specialized machinery, the crop is harvested when it is in 'envero' (a mid-point of maturity when the color has not yet turned black). The olive "does not touch the ground". Only the olives from the canopy or 'flight' are picked, discarding those on the ground, between the end of October and the beginning of November.

Once the olives arrive at the company's mill, milling is carried out within a maximum of 12 to 24 hours after harvesting and with a cold extraction system that does not exceed 27 degrees Celsius. In this way it is possible to preserve all the organoleptic properties, aroma and original flavor of the olive. The objective is to obtain a "premium oil, with a very low acidity of 0.1".

The "exquisite" care of the raw material accompanies it throughout the process. Mechanization is fundamental, with cutting-edge technology in the sector and enough power to harvest the entire crop in just ten days; cleanliness, "because both the olives and the oil capture any odor that is near them and are 'contaminated' by it"; and the climate and vegetation of the area, which confer unbeatable qualities to the product.

The official certifications of Integrated and Organic Production, and the Quality Seal of the Junta de Andalucía endorse their good work. "In Almeria there are only three mills" that have the organic certificate and Campos de Uleila is one of them. "We are very recognized," he says. Producers from all over the province and other more distant as Albacete, Murcia or Alicante bring their crops 'eco' to the farm to be milled.

This service extends to integrated and conventional productions of farmers in the region and renowned brands such as Oro de Níjar. All of them are conveniently separated to differentiate their cultivation systems and respect the current regulations. The range of products offered by the company is mainly based on single variety extra virgin olive oil from Picual, Arbequina and Hojiblanca olives. Another of the oils is a coupage made from the three aforementioned classes. In addition to the Campos de Uleila brand, they have another brand based on traditional cultivation systems, the Villa Dorada oil.

Source: Almeria Newspaper