Posted by Jason Moulton
Today, I was confronted with a very exciting opportunity to travel to Chile.
Miguel Zuccardi suggested that I try to cross the border into Chile to make contact with a Chilean olive oil company. The prospect was enlightening and, obviously, a "no-brainer." Truly, Chile was just over the Andes mountain range, which were in plain sight.
I said yes to the prospect and waited to hear back from Miguel in regards to which company I could visit. This wasn't the easiest task of cross-coordination and communication. In order to make this work, Miguel had to contact the local Pieralisi representative in Argentina, Marcelo Cena.
Marcelo, whom I met at Long Meadow Ranch in 2008, has been instrumental in helping through my journey to Latin America. Marcelo contacted the Chilean representative of Pieralisi, Christian Benavente, to coordinate a meeting with a Chilean olive oil mill.
The idea was to see a different type of olive mill apart from Familia Zuccardi and Pallazini. On that note, Marcelo and Christian found the perfect place. . . Terra Santa.
Terra Santa is located about an hour North of Santiago in the Curacaví Valley. The olive mill will be the biggest I have seen thus far in terms of production. Terra Santa is a very young company, being founded in 1999 by Jorge Nazal Manzur.
Jorge originally made his career from a Chilean clothing line, but now wants to diversify and focus on the burgeoning extra virgin olive oil industry in Chile. His goal here is to make high quality extra virgin olive oil for a good price. At the quality level, their acidity is <0.20%, which is great. The date of bottling is also on each bottle or tin, letting the consumer know just how fresh the oil can be. At this price point and level of quality, the Italians and Spanish should be fearful.
The bus ride through the Andes on to Santiago was full of beautiful mountian views. The snow capped mountains eventually appeared and hence, the temperatures dropped. The total journey was roughly 9 hours. Customs, of course, made it longer - especially when the officials saw me sneeze and assumed I had the H1N1 flu!
When they discovered I was American, they sent me to the Health Department area to be questioned. Luckily, I was fine and the officials were quite nice.
Ironically, I was just getting over the normal flu, but had nothing like the H1N1 symptoms. I looked forward to going to Chile, where it was warmer than Mendoza.
I will kick this cold soon enough.
Posted by Jason Moulton