Autumn in Croatia: Join the Olive Harvest
October in Croatia may mean the end of summer and holidays to most but to some it means something else – olive harvest.
Harvesting olives isn’t a tedious, begrudged job to the majority of families in Croatia, particularly along the Dalmatian coast; it represents the end of a summer season in tourism and when families come together and spend quality time. There are hundreds of families along the Dalmatian coast who work on ships during summer; fathers, brothers, sisters, mothers… half at sea, half at home, all separated for 4 – 5 months while they sail the Dalmatian coast, showing visitors the best of Croatia.
At the beginning of the year, I interviewed one such family – the Nazors. Barbara Nazor told me how much olives mean to them.
“Our olive groves aren’t just a place and harvesting isn’t a chore, it is something we all treasure, a time we look forward to; it symbolises all of our family being together for the first time after a long season. I remember, one summer, sailing past an olive orchard ablaze, we all had tears in our eyes because it means that much to us.”
These aren’t the sentiments of just one family, it is a feeling, emotion, and tradition which reverberates throughout Croatia.
Croatian olive oils are no stranger to the spotlight, having won hundreds of awards and gold medals; earlier this year, Chiavalon Extra Virgin Olive Oil won gold in the 22nd BIOL International Olive Oil competition – a competition dedicated to the best organic extra virgin olive oil.
So, if you are travelling to Croatia, be sure to try local olive oils wherever you get a chance – you will do yourself a disservice if you don’t.
But, what if you could do more than just sample the olive oil, more than drizzling it over every dish and mopping it up with the last remaining piece of bread? Well, you can. There is a beauty to every season in what it offers the traveller but the longer I live in Croatia and travel, the more I realise that it is ‘out-of-season’ which holds some of the more authentic experiences.
As I was saying, rather than just tasting olive oil, why not get involved in the process and become part of the story?
There are various Olive Harvest tours you can get involved with, a nearby and fantastic day-trip option is to the island of Šolta. There are numerous companies who organise a whole day where you join locals or families in a traditional olive harvest. You will be taught to harvest by hand, about the tradition and process of olive oil making, witness the olives you picked being turned into ‘liquid gold’ and be taught how to taste the difference between different olive oils – yes, there is also an art to this.
Credit: 3 Gray Goats Photography
Tours normally come complete with a traditional lunch in the company of new found friends – which is always accompanied by domače vino or liqueurs.
Most tours start in the around noon – just after the 11.15 am ferry that leaves from Split arrives in Šolta. Harvest tours run until October 15th, so book in while you can. See ferry timetables here.
If you want to take it up a notch, the island of Brač is soon to host the World’s First Olive Picking Championship! The ‘competition’ is taking place on the 19th – 22nd October 2017 and is actually less about the competition but more a way of bringing people together from various olive-producing regions around the world to encourage connection and cooperation.
The Director of Postira’s Tourist Board, Ivana Jelinčić told Olive Oil Times: “to promote Postira as an olive destination where a completely natural, healthy and high-quality olive oil is produced in accordance with centuries-old traditions and high-quality standards.”
So, what are you waiting for – the olives aren’t going to harvest themselves!