Our Family History – 5 Generations of Olive Oil Farming and Pressing
In the mid 1870’s, a very hard working young farmer from a poor village in the foothills of southern Kalamata Greece, inherited a premium plot of a few acres of olive trees. This particular plot was nicknamed by the local villagers as “Perivolatha”, which translates in English to “Premium Orchard”. Antonios Liokareas, the forefather of the Liokareas Estates, had an eye for quality and knew from the generations before him how to harvest and press the Koroneiki olives into a rich and flavorful oil. He continued acquiring several more premium orchards throughout the area and at the turn of the century, passed these down to his son, Fotios Liokareas, but not before he could mark his legacy and ensure that all his hard work would make an impact on the generations to come. It was logged in the archived record books, that “the Liokareas premium orchards must be passed down to a son bearing the Liokareas name, and could not be sold, under any circumstance for 5 generations”. Fotios carried on the family legacy and then passed the land down to his son Panayiotis, who took olive oil production to a higher level in the 1940’s. He, along with a group of villagers, built a large stone press, operated by horses that pulled large wooden planks in a circle and lowered a massive stone which much more efficiently pressed the olives into extra virgin olive oil, the old stone press resembled a modern day merry-go-round.
Panayiotis had two sons, Antonis and Yiannis, who worked very hard to maintain the family legacy, but times in Greece were more difficult than ever. Greece had suffered through two world wars, and then was economically devastated by a Greek civil war where villages were divided amongst different political views. In the late 1960’s, Panagiotis left his son Antonis in charge of the premium orchards and left Kalamata to try and find a way to support his family. His son Yiannis came with him and they ended up in the United States, where their hard work ethics were able to pay off. Panayiotis returned years later to the village in southern Kalamata to carry on the family legacy of producing quality extra virgin olive oil, while Yiannis remained working in the United States. Yiannis’ son, Panayiotis (Peter) was born in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. It was not long before Peter was back in the small village up in the mountains of southern Kalamata.
I was 3 years old the first time I walked the “perivolatha” with my grandfather Panayiotis. He showed me, just like his grandfather Antonios showed him, how the premium oil was made. I quickly fell in love with the family tradition and would spend summers with my grandfather in the village. In my teenage and college years, I found myself traveling to this land more frequently, always in time to help my grandfather harvest our olives. I cherished the days when my grandfather would take me to the old stone press, and show me how the oil was made. Being a college student in a large U.S. city, and also being able to travel to a small village in the foothills of Kalamata on winter break to learn to harvest and press olives was truly a blessing to me. My father came from poverty, and worked very hard to raise a family in the U.S., and provide me with a college education from a top University. At the same time, my grandfather, 4000 miles away, was able to teach me about our family legacy. I am the 5th generation of a long legacy that my great-great grandfather started. A legacy I am very proud of belonging to. We carry on the old world methods that my grandfather taught me, that his grandfather taught him, and that I plan to teach my children and grandchildren. In this modern world, we tend to lose sight of how things used to be, and trying to find an easier, faster way we lose quality with large scale production. I am blessed to have been able to be taught the old world methods, how to harvest our olives naturally and traditionally, the way it has been done generation after generation.
Since I was born and raised in the United States, it only made sense for me to carry on the family legacy to the part of the world that I am able to reach. This is why I have started OILIO. At OILIO, we are dedicated to bringing the world’s most pure, extra virgin olive oil to the United States. A Premium Koroneiki Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
In a fast paced country where we value words like “organic” or “non-genetically modified”, these high standards of care and purity come naturally to OILIO. Back in the old country , this is what we have been doing for hundreds of years! At OILIO, we continue to do things the same way that my great-great grandfather, Antonis Liokareas was doing in 1870, and this is what we will continue to do throughout our generations. It does not get any more natural and you can taste it in OILIO.