Published on May 22nd, 2019 | by Darren Paltrowitz0
Bona Frescobaldi On The Long-Term Success Of Frescobaldi Wine & The Laudemio Consortium
As helmed by Tuscany’s royal wine-making family, Frescobaldi wine is made by a family who have been growing grapes for over 30 generations (and counting). Yet the people behind Fresobaldi wine and those grapes are also renowned for the family’s namesake extra virgin olive oil.
Responsible for that Fresbaldi wine and olive oil is Bona Frescobaldi, and she is royal in her own right. Ms. Frescobaldi founded the Laudemio Constortium, the first private Italian institution created with the idea to fully express the art of Tuscan olive oil production with an emphasis on the land. In turn, Ms. Frescobaldi has contributed to the upholding the supreme quality of Tuscan olive oil.
To celebrate 30 years of excellence, the Frescobaldis painted their traditional octagonal bottle gold to highlight the brilliance of their fine, elegant lines. The standard retail price for this limited-edition gold bottle is $42. The name of the celebratory artwork and its campaign is “30 Emerald Green Harvests.”
I had the pleasure of doing Q&A with Bona Frescobaldi herself, and highlights from that May 2018 interview are transcribed below for your reading pleasuree. More on the Frescobaldis and their acclaimed, top-tier products can be found online at www.frescobaldi.com.
You founded the Laudemio. How long was that in the works for?
Bona Frescobaldi: We established the Laudemio brand and its production policies in 1986, but the first official harvest was 1989, so this year is our 30th anniversary. We are proud of the work so far and look forward to continuing to uphold Tuscany’s quality of products.
When did you first realize that olive oil was going to be more than just a part of your diet but also part of your career and livelihood?
Bona Frescobaldi: After the extremely cold winter of 1985, when the temperatures reached minus 25°C (-16°F), we had lost all our production because all the trees were frozen. This tragic event made our family find the will and courage to make something new, something special.
At the time, olive oil was just a commodity; there were no certifications of origin and quality applied to the olive oil sector. So we decided to apply our philosophy of the wine industry, to the olive oil industry as well. We established a brand for the first time in the history of olive oil that focused on: origin (Tuscany, near Florence), highest standards of production quality (1. harvest at the beginning of the ripening phase, usually in October, never after November; and 2. Milling the olives within a few hours after the harvest) and ultimately taste (fresh, grassy flavors, like mown grass and artichoke, with a pleasant bitterness and balanced spiciness).
We wanted to give consumers a brand that they could trust in terms of those characteristics and would stand out from the “commodity olive oil”. The first thing to do was to give it a name, so that it would not be called “olive oil”. We decided to name it LAUDEMIO. During medieval ages Laudemio was the name of the best part of the harvest that was given to the landlord. So the name implies a selection, something special, unique. Then we also decided to choose a special bottle, so that consumers can feel that they are using a precious product, not an ordinary commodity. That is why I choose the octagonal, iconic Laudemio bottle that recalls a perfume. Today it is famous and well recognized because for 30 years we always maintained the same quality and packaging.
To you, what is it that makes Frescobaldi’s olive oil superior to other olive oils on the market? Is it the olives themselves?
Bona Frescobaldi: In addition to the olives, it is the “terroir.” Just like for wine, olive oil quality and taste originates from the territory, which in our case, is the Tuscan hills in our estates surrounding Florence.
Tuscany is a northern and cold region for olive trees, and every year there is the risk of frost. However, it is in extreme areas that plants give the best fruits. So we believe that the unique micro climate of the Tuscan hills give our olive oil its unique freshness, aromas and taste.
For many centuries olive oil has been a key part of the Tuscan culture and Lifestyle. It is an essential ingredient of our cuisine, olive trees are an iconic component of our beautiful landscapes, and it is a traditional product of Tuscany. In particular, during harvest in October and November everyone talks about the new olive oil and many people are involved. It is common for young people as well as elders who are retired to harvest the olives as a seasonal work or a hobby. In addition, many people who have olive trees in their gardens love to bring their olives to a local “frantoio” so that they can proudly have their own “olio nuovo.”
So olive oil is really an important part of everyone’s life in Tuscany. The combined climate conditions and the passion of our people for olive oil, make Tuscan olive oils unique and marvelous.
What about your wine? Given the long term of success of your wine, what is it that helps make you Tuscany’s royal wine making family?
Bona Frescobaldi: It is our will to cultivate the best of Tuscany’s diversity. Our estates are located in different areas of Tuscany. Each with its “terroir” and uniqueness. Every day we work hard and with a lot of passion to produce products that embody those territories.
Do you often have to travel for work? Or do you do most of your business from Italy?
Bona Frescobaldi: I used to travel before. Now, I let the new generation continue the work. At the time when we launched Laudemio, I remember we had a lot of undertakings in various sites. I traveled to Japan several times to introduce the extraordinary qualities of Laudemio Frescobaldi to Japanese people, showing them how to use it in their diet. I often traveled to the United States as well since it has always been one of our major markets.
What is coming up for Frescobaldi in the coming months?
Bona Frescobaldi: The historical major markets for Laudemio Frescobaldi have always been Italy, USA and Japan. Now, we are working to expand our production, planting more olive trees, making a new olive press, and ultimately expand in new markets in Europe as well as Asia. Nowadays everywhere in the world there is increasing demand for authentic, fine food so we believe there is potential for Laudemio Frescobaldi in many areas of the world.
When not busy with work, how do you like to spend your free time?
Bona Frescobaldi: I have always been an active person, so I like to exercise to continue to stay healthy. I love spending time with our friends both at home in Tuscany or travel to visit them in different countries. Lastly, my family is always in my mind so I try to spend as much possible time with all my family members.
Finally, Bona, any last words for the kids?
Bona Frescobaldi: I always tell my 4 children and 10 grandchildren to be passionate and love what they do. When we established Laudemio, we were for the first time making a high quality product and brand in a market that didn’t yet exist, but with passion and love, as well as a lot of commitment we succeeded and our efforts have been beyond rewarding.