Updated: Feb 19, 2019
Vodnjan for many means only one thing – the extra-virgin olive oil. Even during the Roman times, Vodnjan and its surroundings have been one of the most important areas for the production and processing of olive oil. This tradition of production continues today when many family producers try to position their olive oil on the market. The offer is visible from the very walk through Vodnjan. In its narrow streets and old squares, Vodnjan or Dignano in Italian, is full of small olive oil bars and shops, while its immediate surrounding is full of olive groves and family farms producing the golden oil Istria is known for.
There are numerous festivals tied to the olive growing, but one of them stands out. For 13 years, Vodnjan hosts the Days of Young Olive Oil. It is an international olive oil festival and fair dedicated to the professional and less professional tasting of olive oil, where one can learn much about its characteristics, scents, and flavours. This manifestation gives an opportunity to try many dishes combined with the young olive oil, as a modern twist in a traditional cuisine. For olive oil growers, it is an opportunity to learn more about olive oil making, especially how to use the origin brand of Istrian olive oil, how to incorporate olive groves in the programmes of rural development, and more technical stuff about the olives and oil processing.
Days of Young Olive Oil joins Istrian chefs, restaurateurs, restaurants, students and loads of guests. Big gastro show and thematic lunches take place, and many other products are easily found in the big tent. In our blitz tour of the fair, we have visited some of the local olive oil makers, notably our old friends from the wine and olive oil producer Medea with its wonderful line of fresh wines and excellent Salvela olive oils that stem from the olive groves. Medea is a proud descendent of the Vodnjan olive oil manufactory – Oleificio di Dignano, established in 1911. We stopped to try the extra-virgin olive oil Vita from the family farm of Klaudio Vitasović and Oliveri oil from not so far away Labinci.
Some of our friends were also present. The owner of prestigious Vodnjan's restaurant Vodnjanka, Mrs. Svjetlana Celija, was busy with presenting traditional Istrian sweets from this region of southern Istria, while Mr. Živko Dražin once again came from faraway Kaštel Kambelovac to present his PepeFiš products combining fish, olive oil, and hot peppers. As one would expect, our team was much more present at the wine tables, so we visited the Deklić winery from Vižinada and tried its beautiful Malvasia, and learned more about the Pula's winery Marčeta, which is much more presented with its rakija and liqueurs, whose labels are just wonderful fresh image ideas for Istrian spirits.
And when talking of spirits, one of the fair's highlight was not the olive oil itself, but several Serbian visitors, presenting the classic and high-quality Serbian brandies. We were lucky to have a quick tour and introduction to the distilleries Tok and Stara Sokolova, with their aged brandies and quality fruit production, serving among the best gastronomy products of Serbia. It was indeed a flavour and scent which announces our voyage to Serbia soon!
In Vodnjan we also had a nice chat and learned a lot about the olive oil tasting. At the olive oil bar, we had a chance to differentiate between different flavours and scents of olive oil, beginning from mild up to the very strongest olive oils to be found in Istria. This event serves greatly the November tourism in Istria and is one of the best ways to collect information about the olive oil producers and places in the Istrian Peninsula.