Some mates with… Gabriel Guardia

05 Jan 2022

Laur was a pioneer in the implantation of olive groves in the province of Mendoza as well as in the production of olive oil. In 2021 it was named by the EVOO WORLD RANKING as the number 1 olive producer in the world. From the hand of Gabriel Guardia we know more about this project.

What is the history of the company?

Olivícola LAUR was founded in 1889 by Don Francisco LAUR, it was the first olive oil factory in Argentina, Don Francisco, a French immigrant, a native of the Loire region located in the south of France, who settled in Cruz de Piedra, Maipú , was a pioneer in the implantation of olive groves in the province of Mendoza, these centuries-old “organic” olive groves still exist and are part of the local heritage and are also part of the network of heritage olive trees of South America. The current factory is installed in the same building that is 132 years old, where the olive tree museum coexists with modern processing and packaging machines. In 2010 it was acquired by the Millán family and a process of technological innovation began with the incorporation of several production and packaging machines, as well as the professionalization of human resources, which gradually positioned LAUR among the main olive growers in the world, being today number three in the world, among the 100 most important according to the evoo world ranking.

It is also a cultural icon of the area, since it was a promoter of the development of stone cross, generations after generations have been linked directly or indirectly with the production of olive oil thanks to LAUR. Where are they located? We are in stone cross, Maipú, Mendoza.

Why did you decide to turn to organic production?

We decided to certify this plantation since it was already organic in fact, that is to say that no type of agrochemical has been added to it for more than two decades, only water and the pulp and pits of the olives, which is the by-product of the production of olive oil. olive, with this and the weeds of the field, which are ground with the disc harrow and incorporated into the soil, is with which it is fertilized in the field, for which, we think it is very opportune to put the organic seal and be able to give it a projection of much bigger business.

What are the characteristics of Laur Extra Virgin Organic Classic?

The Organic Classic Extra Virgin Laur is a blend made with olives from the typical varieties of traditional olive growing in Mendoza (among them, Farga, Frantoio, Arauco, Lechino, Manzanilla and Arbequina), from certified organic protected centuries-old olive trees of Finca Cruz de Stone (Maipu, Mendoza).

This farm was planted with olive trees more than 130 years ago, when the cultivation methods were very different from the current ones and the varieties were only classified as “oil” and “for preserving”. For this reason, the oldest traditional crops are made up of different varieties in the same plantation and even on the same plant, the result of grafts that were carried out to optimize production. Even in those times many of the small plants were brought by ship from Europe or were stakes that were given from producer to producer after pruning, they were planted and only after 10 years that they began to bear fruit, it was when the owner of the field I was beginning to see what variety it was that I had planted a decade ago.

It is an extra virgin olive oil with a total acidity of less than 0.3 with a fruity aroma and an intense presence of apple and banana and sweet memories typical of traditional varieties such as frantoio. On the palate it has a light, sweet structure, with connotations of grass and a spicy and bitter presence, typical of the Arauco variety, which is a typical Argentine variety, which does not exist anywhere else in the world.

Precisely these balanced and harmonious attributes make it one of the preferred olive oils for daily use not only by the Argentine palate, but also abroad, and in fact, it is our best-selling olive oil.

How is your production process?

The process of obtaining the oil, understood as transformation, consists of several phases that begin with the harvest of the olive and end in the final packaging of the product. The different steps for its preparation are: Picking the olives: the vareo

During the months of April, May and June, the olive groves are visited to collect the olives that months later will become the expected oils. The shaking has been and is the traditional harvesting system that consists of shaking the branches so that the olives fall. Once they have detached from the tree, they must be taken to the factory as soon as possible, within 24 hours of harvest, the olives must be transformed into oil.

Reception: the olives enter the mills

The first step that must be taken in the oil mills is to classify the received fruit. This is usually done depending on the variety, the degree of maturation, the health status. Once classified, the olives undergo a process of cleaning, washing, weighing and storage until the moment of grinding arrives. Grinding and churning: here the oil is released

Grinding allows breaking the structure of the olive, without pitting it, to release the liquid part. However, the shake consists of separating the paste from the other elements to gradually extract the oil. The result of these two processes forms the olive paste that will originate the future oil.

Separation of the liquid part from the solid part

Here begins one of the vital phases that will determine the final quality of the product. Once the paste is obtained, the liquid part must be separated from the solid part. And this process is carried out through kneading, which is done by putting the ground paste in contact with temperature, that temperature is crucial to obtain good quality since at higher temperatures, greater extraction or yield, but lower quality… at lower temperatures, less quantity and more quality… the optimum temperature to have quality, which is what we do, is 25 degrees in a range that can reach a maximum of 30, never more than that. Then it goes through a centrifugal decanter where the solid-liquid separation is made and from there the oil goes to a vertical centrifuge where it is finished cleaning.

Then it goes to storage where different cultural care is done to keep its characteristics intact. As waste and filtered with sheets of paper and there it is protected in stainless steel tanks at low temperature until the moment of packaging.

What are the characteristics of Cruz de Piedra Organic Terroir Blend?

Blend Arauco/Arbequina/Frantoio. Fruity aroma of green olives, with an intense presence of apple and banana and sweet memories. On the palate, it is a light, sweet oil with a predominance of green notes of freshly cut grass, spicy and bitter with a marked presence but at the same time delicate on the palate.

What is your production process?

Continuous process

What other certifications do they have?

All of our olive oils, even those that are not organic, are Kosher, No TACC and HACCP certified. In organic, we also have Organic USDA

What is the importance of them? Mainly it is to do things well, we who are producers of one of the few foods on the market, which do not need any type of chemical treatment for its preparation, we think that we have a mission of evangelization about good nutrition, certifying organic is give recognition value to a product that is indisputably healthy.

What other range of products do you make?

We make all kinds of extra virgin olive oils in their varietal and terroir grades, but we also make the only balsamic vinegar in Argentina, the only true balsamic vinegar, since we work under the standard and certification of the modern balsamic vinegar consortium. ….

We also have reserve wine vinegars, nuts, some gourmet pickles, olives and wines… We also have a line of LAUR Organic wines.

What are your distribution channels?

We have distributors in almost all provinces, being stronger in the entire central strip of Argentina. We also have an international presence in several countries such as China, Japan, Korea, USA, Panama and the Caribbean, Costa Rica, Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay.

How can the consumer obtain more information?

Mainly our doors are open to tourism, we have a staff of bilingual guides prepared to receive 200 people a day on average, we are very strong in this sense, but we also have a group of qualified people answering the permanent queries that they make us in the networks

Our websites:

Official Instagram: @olivicolalaur

And I also answer many questions from mine…. I’m a bit late, but I answer all of them…because I value the interest of the people for the olive very much. @gabriel_guardia

The company has received many awards. How important is it to you?

The international and national recognitions are a very important rod for us, since with these results we put together the consumption strategy, we do not have any average oil, our low range, it is the high range of many brands… we believe and work for the excellence. Olive oil is an unbeatable product… that is to say… nature made it perfect and we cannot improve the perfect, our mission is to try to preserve as best as possible all the antioxidant power that is so good for our health. All our actions, from harvest to packaging, is a constant fight against oxidation, because not all olive oils are good, the only good ones are spicy, fruity and bitter extra virgin olive oils, since this means that they are high in polyphenols and their antioxidant materials, which are the ones that have the ability to prevent cellular aging… and if, in addition, they are organic, even better.

What future plans does the company have?

Our goal is to expand our cultivated area to 100 organic hectares every other year. Which will be in full production in 2026. But in the meantime, we continue to position the Mendoza brand in all markets, we are also working on the first geographical identification – GI – for Mendoza olive oil.

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