Strangely enough, Wine & Greene's first venture was not wine, but olive oil. While I was still working in London, I went out to visit my beloved, slightly eccentric aunt, in Greece's wild and woolly Mani peninsula. This green, mountainous land in the southern Peloponnese is the source of one of the world's best artisan food products - Mani olive oil. Over the contents of the local wine shop (recommended) we hatched a plan to bring it in its pure, unadulterated form to the UK.
Mani olive oil of this sort is usually exclusively for the locals. The growers in this remote region are not owners of grand estates as in Tuscany, and they don't have much interest in marketing, certification for 'Extra Virgin' status, or anything else that has nothing to do with making a seriously good olive oil. The oil is made on a small scale by families who have been doing it for generations. The quality is a given, and it is snapped up in plain five (or seventeen) litre cans straight from the press - quite different to most of the expensive oil you see here in tiny bottles. It is very fresh, unfiltered and completely unadulterated. It is simply harvested, pressed, canned and sold.
Thanks to our 'woman on the ground' (also known as my aunt Jo) for our first harvest (2017) we secured 100 cans of oil from a superb local grower. Dimitri and Tassos's family have been farming their olive groves for generations. The groves are all Koroneiki trees between 30 and 100 years old. Farming is in practice organic, but they do not bother with certification. The olives are simply pressed and the oil canned locally, unfiltered, within 12 hours of harvest.
Working with olive oil like this is not easy - in some years the weather may cut production in half, and unlike with big brands it will never be blended to sacrifice quality for quantity. For us, this unpredictability is part of what makes it an authentic, artisan product. It's a delicious olive oil of course, but also an expression of the place it comes from, and the year in which it was made.