OLEOSOPHIA is the result of a love story between a young Greek couple who turned the Ancient Greek tradition of olive harvesting into a modern family business that is being widely recognised and praised as one of the best and healthiest in the world.
Launched in 2018 in the village of Kalentzi, by Marianna Devetzoglou and Aris Magginas, this Corinthian extra virgin olive oil is rich in antioxidants and was recently awarded for its wellbeing content by the World Olive Centre for Health.
Ensuring consistency in quality, flavour, and aroma, OLEOSOPHIA is a limited edition product as the quantities depend on each
The brand’s vision is to promote the philosophy of extra virgin olive oil while sharing the values and ethos of their land. With a mission to inspire people to add this unique and healthy liquid gold into their everyday life- the small and talented team consists of young individuals of different backgrounds who love their country and its produce.
We recently had a chat with co-founder and Olive Oil Sommelier Marianna Devetzoglou about her family business, which is growing rapidly by the day.
Tell us about your olive oil brand. How did it all begin?
It all started when my husband George and I met – two people from different backgrounds who fell in love. We used to attend events and walk together through the olive trees, discussing ideas and future plans. OLEOSOPHIA started shortly after our love story blossomed with the aim of communicating our ethos, our values, and our vision to the world. OLEOSOPHIA represents the wisdom of olive oil, the unification of two families, and their traditions. We are happy to share this love for extra virgin olive oil with people, exchange ideas, and form solid partnerships around the world.
Tell us more about your upbringing and how that helped you launch OLEOSOPHIA?
George and I grew up in very different families. George comes from an agricultural family in the village of Kalentzi, Peloponnese, whose activities involved cultivating olive trees, table grapes, and apricots. He then studied IT at the Polytechnic University and got an MBA degree, before setting out on his IT career while helping his family. I, on the other hand, was born and raised in Athens, away from nature and in an urban family. I studied Physics and Materials Science in Athens and London before coming back to Greece. When we met, we enjoyed long hours of talking about new ventures, while our romance grew. Despite the different backgrounds, we shared the same passion – sharing our dreams and values with people, contributing to life changing experiences. There, under the olive trees, OLEOSOPHIA was born as a manifestation of our common passion: to create a point of reference where people can learn, enjoy, participate and get to know the local culture, the local olive variety, build a health-oriented mentality, experience artisan products and create long-lasting friendships.
What is the history behind your olive grove in Corinth?
My in-laws family live in the village of Kalentzi, which is located at the base of Mt. Fokas (in the Corinthian area), the mountain where the Lion of Nemea was born, according to legend. For three generations, the family has been cultivating olive trees, table grapes, and apricots. Blessed with a strategically mild microclimate and fertile land, the area offers a variety of products with excellent quality and authentic taste. OLEOSOPHIA is our family’s Extra Virgin Olive Oil, produced by handpicked olives from our family grove, ensuring consistency in quality, flavour, and aroma. This tradition and experience has been passed on from generation to generation and is an integral part of our identity. Now, the new generation, young brothers and sisters have spread their wings, built their education in different sectors – chemistry, physics, and engineering, and have returned to their roots to build a new era for the family – with ethos, persistence, honesty, and integrity. Our olive grove is our sacred family heirloom, where we work hard to produce our awarded monovarietal extra virgin olive oil of the Manaki variety. It is also open to visitors to learn, explore, share and experience the magic of olive oil through olive grove tours and olive oil tasting events under the trees.
Tell us about your varieties?
In our olive grove of approximately 4,000 olive trees, we cultivate and produce monovarietal, first harvest Manaki Extra Virgin Olive Oil, which is health claim certified and represents our local variety, with a well-balanced, smooth sensory profile whilst we also produce Manaki/Megariti extra virgin olive oil variety combined with a playful twist. As olive oil production has been running in the family for more than three generations, we have improved and optimised our agricultural practices in order to achieve higher quality and showcase the beautiful variety of Manaki. We bottle in luxury bottles of 500mL and 250mL which are ideal for everyday use as well as for corporate or personal gifts.
What do you think makes your business so successful?
We are a team of young people with different backgrounds and this is what makes us so strong. The team consists of Aris, Marianna, and Myrto. Aris is responsible for the cultivation. He is very knowledgeable, takes great care of the trees, and makes sure to keep them healthy and happy in order for them to give us their best fruit every year. I am the Olive Oil Sommelier, responsible for networking, PR, exports/sales, and of course, our olive oil tours and olive oil tasting events. I’m very active through education seminars to both consumers and professionals, while being the contact point between the family and our partners. Myrto is our Quality Advisor – coming from a chemistry background, she is the go-to person for all the necessary, quality-related processes, organisation advice, and science. The three of us complement each other, each building on each other’s strengths and weaknesses, creating a productive, well-balanced result.
What makes Greek olive oil so healthy?
Extra Virgin Olive Oil – the highest grade of olive oil – is the healthiest one can possibly consume, rich in healthy fats and antioxidants that have demonstrated to contribute against a number of changes our body undergoes. Moreover, it is a natural juice that comes directly from the pressing of the olive fruit. Greek Extra Virgin Olive Oil, in particular, is healthy and rich in different sensory profiles because of the many different olive varieties found in Greece. As a result, the consumer can enjoy all the health benefits and experience authentic flavours that depict the local microclimate and flora of each region.
What makes your olive oil so unique?
A number of reasons make OLEOSOPHIA special. The Manaki variety that we cultivate in our family olive grove is a sensitive variety that is mainly used for the production of high quality, high-end extra virgin olive oil. The variety is found only in two areas in Greece and is not cultivated in other countries, making the experience of OLEOSOPHIA an authentic one, one you may explore when travelling in our region. Moreover, OLEOSOPHIA monovarietal extra virgin olive oil holds a Health Claim certificate for its phenolic content – this means that consumers may use OLEOSOPHIA as a health supplement, not just as a tasty ingredient in their everyday cooking. Both, our monovarietal and our varietal combinations have been awarded a GREAT TASTE AWARDS 2020, one of the most prestigious food competitions globally. Finally, OLEOSOPHIA is not just a product – partners and consumers can enjoy this unique variety, participate in our online workshops and also, visit our olive grove to experience olive oil tours, olive oil tasting, and food pairing guided by our Olive Oil Sommelier. Our vision is to create a community of Oleosophers and let people enjoy it, learn about our ethos and olive oil culture, and become part of our family.
Tell us about your awards and accolades?
Our family is constantly working hard to ensure high-quality extra virgin olive oil in order to enjoy the health benefits and unique flavour of our Manaki variety. Our hard work has been rewarded with an OLYMPIA AWARD 2020 for OLEOSOPHIA’s Monovarietal Manaki Health Claim and phenolic content while we have also won our GREAT TASTE AWARD 2020 for both our monovarietal and our variety combination with very positive comments by the judges.
Where is your oil stocked and do you ship internationally?
In our village, Kalentzi, and near our olive grove, we stock our olive oil in stainless steel containers, in dark, cool places as per the appropriate specifications of olive oil maintenance. Internationally, we have been working with a number of high-end, fine food shops globally that address a demanding audience that seeks healthy, authentic, and original products. Our partners are located in the EU (France, Germany, Switzerland, Greece, Sweden), USA, and Australia while we keep growing our network through product collaborations, article contributions, olive oil tasting events, and training workshops.
Are you working on any new projects and what is your long-term vision?
Every year we work hard to improve our products and our methods, simultaneously improving ourselves with respect to our land and its value. We continue working on our product range that will eventually include not only extra virgin olive oil but also olive oil-based cosmetics, herbs, and table olives. Our vision is to communicate our philosophy of life and of extra virgin olive oil while sharing the values and ethos of our land and family. We aim to become a reference point for excellent quality manaki extra virgin olive oil, olive oil tastings and tours, education workshops and to make our local variety known across our network of partners and community of Oleosophers.
You also offer olive oil tours.
Yes. Seeking to communicate our family values and mentality, we host olive oil tours and tasting sessions in our olive grove as part of the OLEOSOPHIA experience. Visitors have the opportunity to walk through the olive grove, learn about the olive trees and the manaki variety specifically, and explore the authentic flavour by experiencing olive oil tasting sessions under the olive trees. We book small groups to ensure a better experience and guide them through the lifecycle of olive oil. We discuss with them the health benefits of extra virgin olive oil, its role in the Mediterranean Diet, ways to make it part of their daily gastronomy, and why it is more of health investment, rather than simply a tasty ingredient. Moreover, visitors can learn which are the positive attributes of extra virgin olive oil, which are the defects, and how to identify them when seeking to purchase olive oil for their friends and family. This is a unique experience, one that enables people to explore new flavours and aromas, live a local, authentic experience and way of life, participate in the evaluation of olive oil and learn how to make well-informed decisions about their health. The tours run all year round, based on bookings, and with a special emphasis in the spring-summer season. We are always happy to welcome visitors, get to know them, educate them, share our values, and make long-lasting friendships with people from around the world and from different backgrounds.