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Press Release: First Day of Harvest by Alex de la Iglesia

The chosen olive varieties – Arbequina and Picual – are harvested at night to shorten the length of harvest time and to take advantage of the lower temperatures

Castillo de Canena presents its eleventh limited edition from its exclusive First Day of Harvest collection, designed by film director Alex de la Iglesia

  • The careful selection of the olives are from trees that have been specially chosen and, thanks to precision agriculture, harvesting begins on the exact day that the olives reach optimum ripeness
  • Having received the highest number of awards ever, its extra virgin olive oils are firmly established as some of the best in the world and, for the fifth year, the prestigious guide Flos Olei 2017 has awarded them the highest score
  • The filmmaker’s personality and passion for First Day of Harvest extra virgin olive oils and the world of comic books are reflected in the label


primerdia-2016-hover-esIn its pursuit of excellence and as a benchmark company in haute cuisine as the producer of some of the best extra virgin oils in the world, Castillo de Canena launches its eleventh limited edition of its iconic First Day of Harvest. Unique in its category, it is a product that is eagerly awaited throughout the year as it stands out among high-end oils thanks to its gentle way of harvesting, its aroma, flavour and quality.

To produce its esteemed extra virgin olive oils, Castillo de Canena uses precision agriculture. Using science and the latest technology, the company can thus check – in real time – the physiological condition of the olive trees and their different needs during every season. In addition, precision agriculture allows the company to determine the exact date to begin the harvest of each variety so it never starts too early or too late.

As for every other edition, a celebrity linked to culture, art, sport or the sciences – and a lover of olive oil – has been commissioned to design the label for the characteristically cherry-red bottles. On this occasion, the film director Álex de la Iglesia created the new label that clearly reflects his personality as a fan of First Day of Harvest extra virgin olive oils as well as of the world of comic books.

“It was very interesting and good fun to work on this project as the production of First Day of Harvest brings to the world of extra virgin oils the same magic, feelings and passion that the characters in my films and my books convey,” said Álex de la Iglesia, a great supporter of Spanish cuisine.

Furthermore, the filmmaker also confessed his passion for exotic food. “I love Vietnamese, Thai and Brazilian food, and it’s amazing how these delicious Castillo de Canena oils can fuse with these types of recipes to create the most amazing dishes,” he explained.

Álex de la Iglesia is one of Spain’s most recognized and award-winning filmmakers. In 1995 he released the film that would mark him as one of the most important directors of Spanish cinema: El Día de la Bestia (The Day of the Beast) won six Goya awards, outstanding among which was the one for Best Director.

Thanks to his bold spirit that has been boosted by good results at the box office, Álex de la Iglesia has created a wide variety of films with regard both to topic as well as the choice of actors. His films range from ambitious productions aimed at international audiences, such as The Oxford Murders (2007), to others that are more Spanish in approach with touches of black humour and grotesqueness such as Common Wealth (2000), 800 Bullets (2002), Crimen Ferpecto (2004), The Last Circus (2010) – that won the prize for Best Screenplay and the silver Lion for Best Director at the 67th Venice Film Festival–, Witching & Bitching (2013) – which won eight Goyas and two Fotogramas de Plata –, and My Big Night (2015).

The best olives at the optimum moment of ripeness

Castillo de Canena meticulously oversees the entire selection process of the best Arbequina and Picual olive varieties that are harvested at their optimum moment of ripeness.

“We make use of precision agriculture that involves more than twenty parameters to pinpoint the exact day of the fruits’ optimum ripeness to begin harvesting each variety on the best day so it never starts too early or too late,” said Francisco Vañó, CEO of Castillo de Canena, specifying, “this time we started by harvesting the Arbequina olives, followed by the Royal olives and lastly the Picuals.”

This year too, the selected olives were harvested at night to shorten the length of the harvest and to take advantage of the lower temperatures. Both are essential parameters for the creation of exceptional extra virgin olive oils.

“In addition, this year we managed, for the very first time, to implement a cold chain starting from the harvest to the packaging of our extra virgin olive oils. This is a step forward in the fight against temperatures rising during the harvest” said Castillo de Canena’s CEO.

This latest crop has begun with the company having the highest number of awards and recognitions in its history. And for yet another year, the latest edition of the prestigious Flos Olei guide has just confirmed – for the fifth year – that Castillo de Canena’s extra virgin olive oils are the best in the world and awarded them the highest score (98 points) and ranked them among the world’s top 14.

This is in addition to other awards such as the “Best Extra Virgin Olive Oil in Spain, for the intense green fruitiness category” for the Castillo de Canena Family Reserve Picual awarded by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and the Environment (MAGRAMA); the Sol d’Oro “Best Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil in the World” for their Biodynamic oil at the international Sol de Oro competition; and the Sol de Bronce award for their Early Royal in the single-variety category, among other awards.

With a limited production, First Day of Harvest Arbequina is a dense oil that is pale green in colour; it is balanced and complex in character, has the fruitiness of green olives that can be identified on the nose and in the mouth, and has a great diversity of plant aromas, in particular, freshly-cut grass, almond and artichoke. The mouthfeel is of almonds with green apple, banana peel and hint of pepper. Its sweetness, that is slight astringent, and great persistence on the palate should also be highlighted.

First Day of Harvest Picual is a strong, very green oil with an intensely fruity freshness and hints of green grass, green almonds and wild herbs (thyme, rosemary). The mouthfeel is initially smooth, with a moderate and balanced bitterness and spiciness, and an aftertaste of almonds, artichokes, tomato leaves and apple.

Francisco Vañó explains, “First Day of Harvest – both Arbequina and Picual – are two very robust oils that come from specially chosen olive groves. They have lots of personality and an excellent sensorial quality, are extraordinarily fragrant, harmonious and elegant.”

This eleventh edition of Castillo de Canena’s First Day of Harvest will be sold in over 50 countries – mainly in Europe, the United States, Latin America, Japan and Australia – thus consolidating itself as one of the best extra virgin olive oils in the world thanks to the continuous recognition it has garnered from day one.

The mystique of the harvest’s first oils

First Day of Harvest is the excellent result of a yearlong effort by the grower and is a tribute to the mystique of the first juices obtained from the harvest with all the magic and joy it embodies.

“Only someone capable of perceiving the magic and beauty of the olive tree and its environment, and understanding the effort and dedication that year after year the grower undertakes to create the most fragrant, balanced and complex oils, is able to capture, in the brief space of a label, the synthesis of all the emotions and passion that emanate from this special day when the first olives are harvested,” explains Rosa Vañó, Castillo de Canena’s Sales and Marketing Director.


For Rosa Vañó, the reason for choosing Álex de la Iglesia to design the new label was “because his entrepreneurial spirit is similar to that of our company; his professional path is both innovative and transgressive and has enriched the world of Spanish cinema, while at the same time putting his own unmistakable imprint on everything he produces for the silver screen.”


At previous editions this unique moment was graced by various celebrities such as Sara Navarro, Enrique Ponce, Joaquín Berao, Ainhoa Arteta, Manolo Valdés, Pau Gasol, Alejandro Sanz, Fernando Alonso, Roberto Verino and Raphael.


Castillo de Canena

With an olive-producing history that goes back to 1780 when they began tending their own olive trees of the varieties Picual, Arbequina and Royal, the Vañó family today personally oversees the entire production process of their extra virgin olive oils until they reach their point of sale.


The company, whose name comes from the family castle that sits atop a hill in the municipality of Canena (Jaén), is deeply committed to caring for the environment. This commitment to sustainable development can be appreciated by the solar-powered electric plants, the herbaceous ground cover for all of the olive groves that reduces ground erosion and preserves the native flora, and in the use of pruning off-cuts used as biomass as a non-polluting, eco-friendly fuel.


Today, the company operates in over 50 countries that include the UK, Germany, Russia, the USA, Japan, China, the United Arab Emirates, Mexico and Peru, among others where its extra virgin olive oils have been recognized with top international awards.



Castillo de Canena is a member of EVA (Extra Virgin Alliance), the first international association of EVOO producers whose aim is to promote and ensure – via strict controls and a common seal of quality – excellence in the obtaining and conservation of EVOOs throughout the distribution chain, as well as ensuring the sustainability and preservation of the ecosystems of olive groves. Today, EVA includes producers from all five continents:


The company also belongs to the Grandes Pagos del Olivar association which brings together the best Spanish producers of extra virgin olive oil who choose to produce very limited quantities of extremely high-quality oils using methods that combine artisanal processes with cutting-edge technologies.

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