I’ll tell you a story, mine!! Unusual and exciting. My name is Monica Vaccarella, I was born in Verona on 11 September 1974 and I am a producer of extra virgin olive oil.
I have a degree in Health Biology, and I founded this company in December 2009. They are only two hectares, of which just over one and a half hectares are cultivated with olive groves. To start this adventure, I left the security of a permanent job. It took courage to get involved in this way, yet, when I bought this land, I only followed my inner voice. The same one that pushed me to open that drawer to make the dream come true.
I consider myself a volcano of energy, emotions and passions.
I come from a Sardinian family of farmers and olive growers. After the war, my paternal grandfather “Santo” owned the largest farm in the province of Nuoro where there was everything. In total there were 25 hectares of which 8 were in secular olive groves, 4 in orchards, another 4 in vegetables and 9 in arable land between Senatori Cappelli durum wheat, barley, oats and broad beans. They had cows for milk and horses and donkeys for work in the fields as the tractor arrived much later. After the war, however, it was thought that the future of the country would lie in industry and when Eni arrived in Sardinia, his grandfather’s lands were expropriated for the construction of that site, and after a few years he died too soon.
Vaccarella in Sardinia was a great name, grandfather Santo’s company employed nearly thirty workers after the war. Unfortunately, my father had to pursue a different career when his father’s lands in Ottana were expropriated by Eni, but he has never forgotten his origins. So my father, the eldest son of 5 boys, soon had to rebuild a future and start from scratch and was thus forced to immigrate to another land where he also had the courage to undertake a military career and only after years when he learned of having a fixed transfer to Verona he married my mother Liliana of Sicilian origins and they moved permanently to Verona. Although my father had an excellent military career, he kept a peasant soul, kept his precious knowledge in his heart and has always managed third-party olive groves purely for passion. My dream was to recreate here in Verona what had been taken from the family in Sardinia, and in my small way I feel I have succeeded.
I was born and raised in Verona and in this land, I had to carry out my project. I chose to create the company exactly in Avesa, for the production of the oil I use the cultivars of Grignano, Favarol, Pendolino, Leccino, Leccio, Frantoio, Casaliva …….
I produce two blends, one hundred percent Italian, and one certified Veneto Valpolicella DOP, both made exclusively with olives from this estate.
My goal has never been to trade or sell a bottle, but to tell the story of its journey with the product; I have a different approach to this job, and I would like the passion that drives me to shine through in everything I do.
For me it is essential to tell about the product and the hard work behind a small company of “Niche”, managed in all respects by a Woman.
The story takes place in the company, when people come to me to get to know the product, through the numerous tasting opportunities that I propose, or in the professional contexts where they invite me.
When you are an entrepreneur who makes a recognized qualitative artisan product, you not only witness a result, but you represent a virtuous business method even if it is small in size.
On these occasions I talk about the company, which is the basis of everything I am. Below I illustrate my territory, which has native cultivars such as Grignano and Favarol necessarily different from those of other areas of Italy, and with which I proudly produce the oil for Veneto Valpolicella PDO. Then I move on to tell the identity of my Oils, through the tasting and the emotion that this gives, because the hard work to make them is imprinted in its aromas and taste, the matrices of this told world.
Storytelling needs suitable places that can accommodate such experiences, so the creation of a tasting room and a facility dedicated to disseminating the culture and passion of knowing how to make oil are in the planning stage. Because it is only the passion that leads us to make our dreams come true.
I do not use the advice of an oleolego, I am the panel test!
I start the harvest very early, in October, when the veraison has just begun, with the PDO cultivars, as required by the disciplinary, and then follow with other types for the production of the second oil. The moment of collection requires calculation and parsimony, and all the mental and physical energies at my disposal. This is the time when you can’t go wrong.
Trees must be treated with kindness, as if they were people. You have to talk to them if you want them to give you the best olives, woe to hurt them and damage the branches. Just as it is necessary to show the utmost attention during the harvest, because stepping on the olives is always a sacrilege.
This mode has always belonged to me, I live in the field as my father taught me. At competitions, fairs and meeting occasions, I transform and show off all my femininity, made up and elegant, but for pruning I am climbing the olive trees and I wear overalls and boots.
Unfortunately, the image that many have of the female entrepreneur is that of the stereotype of the manager, but I am a woman who works in the field, and this is a source of pride and satisfaction for me. My strength is competence and preparation, I have not improvised myself as an entrepreneur, and in my work I put to good use the wealth of knowledge that also derives from descending from a family of olive growers.
We were and we have remained farmers, and today it is extraordinary to see how, after fifty years, the illusion of industrialization as the only job choice ended, the awareness that the land represents the best job opportunity also for the well-being of the body and mind.
The life choice I made can be a stimulus for many young people, but it must be listened to with the heart and mind to be accepted. This is a job that knows no tranquility. From the needs of the field, to the meetings to promote the product, I am in perpetual motion and I always have the suitcase ready to run wherever they call.
When I return to this paradise, I recover a more natural rhythm, out of the frenzy and stress that seem to contaminate all professions and work environments. In this place there is no bad mood, it is a continuous gift of inner peace that is transferred to all phases of my work. I believe that it is also for these positive energies that a quality food with beneficial properties is created.
As mentioned, the harvest almost always begins in the second week of October, only strictly green olives, and the quantity of each day is already in the mill by 17.00. I don’t look at the yield but focus on a different quality, so before starting to press, the whole line is carefully washed, and the oil mill follows my instructions, because it’s only me who decides how to do it. As for the methods of fertilization and a thousand other details, otherwise it would not be possible for me to find my space among many producers and larger producers.
For me, and for my olives, this land is a happy oasis. Here we are in a hilly area exposed to the sun from morning to sunset, where the plants are always ventilated and dry because, being between the Val Borago and Val Galina, they constantly receive the air blowing from the Lessini mountains, and the oil fly it is annoyed and does not proliferate.
This is a sector where there are still very few women, and when there are they mainly deal with marketing.
I take care of my life with my oil, I accompany every step, working day and night, always, clashing, if necessary, with the old theories of peasants who only pay attention to yield. Today many recognize my achievements, but a woman who wants to farm to earn credit has to work twice as hard as a man.
Despite the various awards won, what gave me the greatest emotion was the one conferred on me two years ago by the Verona Chamber of Commerce. I sat among the big names of Veronese companies, and I was rewarded for having distinguished myself in the very high quality of my product that I manage to produce every year, also raising the name of Verona in the world.
That world meant the United Arab Emirates to me.
The big producers hold high the name of Made in Italy, but from the experiences with my customers I have drawn the awareness that we small producers make the difference because we create exciting products and build the future of our land. I am really proud that this year the Company celebrates 11 years of life, of emotions and passions…..