Why in Greece
The same way long distance runners aspire to participate in the classic Marathon run or great actors dream of performing at the ancient theater of Epidaurus, dedicated olive oil producers dream of the opportunity to compete in the land where everything started.
Greece, the first country in the world to uplift the olive and olive oil into cultural products, is one of the leading olive oil producers worldwide, while Greek extra virgin olive oils are universally recognized as among the best in the world. Moreover, Greece’s leading olive varietal, koroneiki, is being adopted in a plethora of other countries striving for excellence.
The dream of competing and winning in Greece came true in 2016 with the first edition of the ATHENA International Olive Oil Competition, held in Athens, olive oil culture’s legendary birthplace.
Following last year’s breakout success, with 256 entries from 10 countries awarded 118 medals by an international panel of 19 leading experts, in 2017 the AΤΗIOOC—now an annual institution—will be held in mythical Pylos in Messinia, land of Homer’s “sacred liquid gold” and Greece’s leading olive oil producing region, accounting for about 30% of total annual production nationwide.
This year’s competition is sponsored by the Captain Vassilis and Carmen Konstantakopoulos Foundation, a non-profit private institution founded in 2011 and aimed at establishing Messinia as a model for sustainable agricultural development by supporting and promoting related projects.
Why in Messinia?
Blessed with lush olive groves, Messinia is an idyllic corner of the southern Peloponnese with a long-established export trade in table olives and delectable extra virgin olive oil. Here grows the award-winning koroneiki olive variety, whose ancestral roots in its namesake village of Koroni have spread throughout Greece and beyond. Here also grows the prized Kalamata olive, this plump purple-black variety known around the world for its distinctive flavor and high nutritional value. Tranquil, nurturing and largely unspoilt, Messinia offers one of the most stunning landscapes in the Mediterranean. With the opening of the world-class Costa Navarino Resort in 2010, the region has become a high-end travel destination.