By Claire Lardizabal
SAN POLO in CHIANTI, Italy—The olive fruit fly, Mosca Olearia, devastated half of the Pruneti’s olive grove and led a decrease in overall olive oil production due to unfavorable weather in 2014.
The Azienda Agricola Pruneti is located in the rolling hills of Chianti outside of Florence. The Pruneti family has been producing olive oil since the 19th century, and currently maintains 28,000 olive trees on 150 acres of land.
The grandfathers of the clan used a hot-press method that was easier but quality had to be sacrificed for quantity. Now, it is the other way around. Olive oil is cold-pressed at 27°C through stainless steel machinery. The cold temperature yields better quality because it will preserve the olive’s vitamins.
Last year’s heavy rains and humidity created a breeding ground for the fruit fly that then ate olive crops and contaminated olive crates, cutting the estimated olive harvest by 50 percent.
The Pruneti’s take pride in running one of the only organic olive farms in Chianti. In fact, they would rather risk losing their crop than resort to pesticides. Emanuele Innocenti (in photo below), head of area commerce, said that he has had to turn buyers away because there is no olive oil to be produced.
“This year, Tuscan olive oil is not available in not only Italy, but in the world,” Innocenti said.
The Pruneti’s sell nine varieties of award-winning extra virgin olive oil. Their product is labeled as Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOC-G).
This year, they are hoping for the dry weather olives need to thrive.