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Spanish Olive Oil

Spanish Olive Oil

Spanish Olive Oil Production Regions

The virgin olive oil is the essence of the cuisine of Spain. It is an essential ingredient of the Mediterranean diet. Spain is the largest producer of olive oil. The quality of its oil is guaranteed by the existence of some 27 Appellations of Origin (PDO's). Most PDO's are located in Andalucia (12) and Catalonia (5). 

Protected Designation of Origin (PDO)

The first Spanish olive oil PDO was granted in October 1975 to a Catalan region, province of Lleida under the name Borjas Blancas. It became later known as Borges Blanques and since 1994 as Les Garrigues. The second PDO for a Spanish olive oil was also given to Catalonia Tarragona, under the name Siurana.  It is not surprising as both these Catalan regions have a very old reputation for high quality of olive oil. This is because of softness and almond flavor which is characteristic of the Arbequina variety.

Read more on PDO and PGI in European Union.

 Andalusia Olive Oil

Andalusia, the province in the south of Spain, is a land of olive trees. Especially Jaén  is all about olive oil. One can tour the Olive Route, Sierra Magina, where huge fields of olive trees spread around the Natural Park of Sierra Magina. One can visit towns that reflect a culture associated with olive farming. This both through the architecture of its farms, and their traditions and craftsmanship. One can visit mills where the olives are pressed and participate in tastings. One can learn the whole process of production of virgin olive oil in the Museum of the Olive Culture, just eight miles from Baeza.

There are many small towns that are part of the Olive Route de Jaén. For example, Cambil and  with its ancient olive trees, Jimena, with a huge valley,  the banks of the Guadalquivir, or Cabra del Santo Cristo. 

 Olive Trees in Córdoba

Cordoba, also in Andalusia, is another major oil producer in Spain.  People interested in olive oil are guided to places like Hornachuelos, Montoro or Adamuz. Thuis is near the city of Cordoba and the nature parks of Montoro and Hornachuelos, with more than 100,000 hectares of olive trees. In addition, Córdoba has many ancient olive trees in places like Almedinilla, Baena, Luque, Montilla, Priego de Cordoba and Lucena. In fact, the area covered under the Protected Designation of Origin "Priego de Cordoba", comprises over 29 thousand hectares. It includes the municipalities of Almedinilla Carcabuey Source Tójar and Priego de Córdoba. It is located in the Natural Park of Sierras Subbéticas. 

 Olive oil in Catalonia

Catalonia is the second region of Spain with more denominations of origin for olive oil. These are mainly divided between the Costa Brava, Costa Dorada and Lleida. The first one includes municipalities as Cabanes, Pau, Toroella of Montgrí Ventalló and Vilafant. The Costa Dorada has Reus, one of the historic capital of the olive oil and places like Cambrils, Horta de Sant Joan, Priorat area. There are cooperatives that offer guided tours to show the process oil processing. In Lleida, one can visit the region of Les Garrigues, El Segrià and L'Urgell. Some mandatory stops are Ecomuseu Oil in Pobla de Cèrvoles, the Oil Museum Castelldans, and Oil Theme Park, located in Les Borges Blanques.

In addition to the tastings and guided tours of olive groves and mills in Catalonia, imany events related to the olive oil take place in the months from November to January. This is In places like Reus, Castelldans, or Les Borges Blanques Espolla. One can taste there Pan Tomaca, a simple dish of Catalan cuisine with the unique flavor thanks to virgin olive oil.

Andalusia and Catalonia are the main regions but the Spanish olive oil is also produced in many other regions. For example, Castilla - La Mancha has four appellations of origin (PDO's). Also the mountains of Toledo have large olive groves. One will find virgin olive oil certified by the appellation of origin in Aragón, Baleares, Extremadura, Navarra and La Rioja.