In 1997, only two years after Croatia had successfully defended its campaign for independence and had an economy in its infancy, a 14-year-old Sandi Chiavalon began his ascent into olive oil stardom by watching over his family's olive oil grove in Vodnjan, Croatia. His grandfather had fallen ill and the olive trees that had stood in Istria for centuries were left to the care of Sandi. During this time, Sandi grew a small hobby into an obsession, and quickly realized that his passion and enthusiasm alone weren’t enough to fuel his desire to develop his own version of the Mediterranean’s “liquid gold.”
Sandi (left) with his brother Tedi (right)
Sandi honed his olive oil production skills by enrolling at the Agricultural Secondary School in Poreč, Croatia before finishing his education at the Faculty of Agriculture in the capital of Zagreb. Using the trees he had to constantly test and develop new olive oils, Sandi subsequently began planting more trees in order to expand his production of olive oil, which was rapidly gaining traction in Istria.
Many years after 14-year-old Sandi had his first taste of cultivating olives, the Chiavalon estate has now grown to over 7,500 trees and has become a world leader in the quality of olive oil production. Being on the forefront of olive oil innovation, the Chiavalons constantly look for ways to improve and modernize olive oil production. The shelves of their estate are lined with gold medals from the top competitions from all around the world, and have been consistently given the designation of one of the top 25 extra virgin olive oils in the world by the World’s Best Olive Oils Association, an organization that looks over the results from each of the major olive oil competitions to populate their list.
Unlike most olive oils on the US market, the Chiavalons exclusively use olives native to Croatia in their production: buza vodnjanska, crnica vodnjanska, istarska bjelica, morazola and rosignola. With five different olives in their blend of Ex Albis extra virgin olive oil, the Chiavalons can pick and chose the blend based on which olives had the best growing season and which olives complement each other the best.
To hold such magnificent olive oil, the Chiavalons brought on leading design firm Bruketa&Žinić to create unique packaging for the Chiavalons’ oil, creating a beautiful bottle fit for Croatia's most awarded producer.
Chiavalon Ex Albis Extra Virgin Olive Oil comes in two sizes, 500ml and 250ml. By limiting the size to these two categories, it prevents the oil from exposure to oxygen, an olive oils’ worst nightmare. Exposure to oxidation decreases the quality of the oil, which the Chiavalons aim to avoid at all costs.
Not convinced? Then see what those who have gotten to experience the olive oil first hand have to say.