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Press Release: First Day of Harvest 2021 by Matías Prats

An iconic and ground-breaking product in its category over the past 16 years

Canena unveils the 16th limited edition of its exclusive First Day of Harvest collection starring Matías Prats

  • After monitoring all processes and checking the evolution of the fruit daily, Canena crafts the collection from a meticulous selection of olives from carefully chosen groves to ensure that harvest begins on the exact day of optimum ripeness.
  • Matías Prats wanted to reflect his family legacy in the world of communication on the label, very much in line with the history of Castillo de Canena.

On its path towards excellence and as a family-run company and leader in haute cuisine for the production of some of the world’s most outstanding extra virgin olive oils, Castillo de Canena launches the 16th limited edition of its iconic First Day of Harvest EVOO. A highly anticipated product throughout the year, this extra virgin olive oil was a pioneer in its category and stands out among premium oils for its meticulous production process and unparalleled aroma, flavour and quality.

Castillo de Canena continues to invest in R&D+I year after year to produce its prized extra virgin olive oils, harnessing the power of precision agriculture and artificial vision systems to select only the best olives. Using the most modern technology and a science-based approach, the company can check the physical status of its olive trees and their diverse needs in real time in every season. Furthermore, precision agriculture allows them to determine the exact day of the beginning of the harvest of each variety for pinpoint accuracy.

“We’ve been producing well-balanced early oils at Castillo de Canena since 2003. To make that happen, it’s critical that we determine the exact moment at which the different groves that have been selected over the previous months are harvested. Rushing the harvest is just as bad as waiting too long. We get more intense extra virgin oils with this early harvest, as well as an increase in the phenolic compounds and in the percentage of oleic acid they contain”, explained Francisco Vañó, CEO of Castillo de Canena.

A new ‘sponsor’

Just like with each edition, the company has once again partnered with a celebrity from the world of culture and the arts, sports, communication or science – and a lover of olive oil. This year, the brand asked Matías Prats to design the label of the edition’s iconic cherry-coloured bottles. This unique moment joins others in previous editions by big names including Carlos Sainz, Juan Echanove, Sara Varas, Sara Navarro, Enrique Ponce, Joaquín Berao, Ainhoa Arteta, Manolo Valdés, Pau Gasol, Alejandro Sanz, Fernando Alonso, Roberto Verino, Raphael and Álex de la Iglesia.

first day of harvest picual

“We would like to thank Matías for the opportunity he gave us to work with him and for his support in this 16th edition of our First Day of Harvest. He is someone very much in tune with the philosophy of Castillo de Canena, the living image of an excellent family legacy, of professional effort and perseverance, and of a job well done over the years”, says Rosa Vañó, Marketing and Sales Director of Castillo de Canena.

Son of the famous journalist Matías Prats Cañete and father of Matías Prats Chacón, another journalist, Prats has been involved in the world of radio and television communication since the early ’70s. He has presented news programs since his debut in the Weekend News in 1976, and his characteristic voice, so well-known by all, has narrated major moments in our recent history, from the arrival of democracy in Spain to the September 11 attacks, not to mention countless sports events.

Close to hitting the milestone of 10,000 news programmes presented, Prats has received several awards for his professional work and his extensive career, including the Ondas Award (1996), several Iris and TP de Oro awards for best news anchor, the International Press Club award in 2018, the IV Santiago Castelo Award and, most recently, the I Pepe Oneto National Journalism Award.

Vision of sustainability

First Day of Harvest is the excellent result of an entire year’s worth of effort by the grower and a tribute to the mystique of the harvest’s first oils and all their magic and joy. Even difficulties in years like this one, complicated in terms of weather, fail to diminish the quality of these oils.

“The first relevant event of the growing year came with the tremendous storm that hit the Iberian Peninsula in January, with heavy snow and extremely low temperatures that froze part of the new shoots of the olive trees. A rainy spring was followed by a good flowering which, however, was partly spoiled by the hot temperatures we had on certain key days in May”, explained Francisco Vañó.

In this sense, and always keeping an eye on the problems caused by climate change, the company maintains its firm commitment to sustainability and environmental protection, recovering the natural balance and diversification of its ecosystem.

“We were pioneers at Castillo de Canena in externally certifying our Carbon and Water Footprint. We were also the first in our sector to be audited in the first European standard certifiable in CSR (the SGE 21) and in joining the United Nations Global Compact, committing to its principles and contributing to achieving the broader objectives of sustainable development set by the 2030 Agenda”, said the CEO.

To that end, the corporate vision will continue to seek to enhance the company’s contribution to four sustainable development objectives: Health and Wellness (by producing and marketing a healthy and wholesome natural oil); Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure (seeking excellence in all processes through research and innovation); Responsible Production and Consumption; and Protect Terrestrial Ecosystems (seeking a balance between economic development and sustainable development).

The best olives harvested at just the right moment

Castillo de Canena meticulously oversees the entire process of selecting the best Arbequina and Picual olives, picking them at just the right moment of ripeness. Even in years such as this, which was complicated by weather like the Filomena storm and the high temperatures recorded in the month of May.

“We had a severe drought in the summer and the first part of the autumn which we managed to combat with the continuous but rational irrigation of our trees and giving them the right nutrients”, said the CEO of Castillo de Canena. “The harvest was lower in volume than in past years, but the olives harvested have been very homogeneous. We harvested medium-sized olives with a good pulp/stone ratio, healthy, hydrated and with a fairly uniform ripening rate”.

As in previous seasons, Canena selected the groves with the best fruit to create these early First Day of Harvest EVOOs. “The Picual olives come from the Cañada Luenga Centro grove and have resulted in a deep green EVOO with an expressive fruitiness featuring notes of green vegetables and the characteristic tomato leaf. Its flavour is intense and complex and the notes I mentioned manifest on the palate with a contained bitterness and spiciness. It has a long-lasting taste and a light and pleasant astringency, as well as a menthol aftertaste”, describes Francisco Vañó.

As for the First Day of Harvest Arbequino EVOO, the CEO says that it was produced with olives harvested at Pago de los Girasoles. “It’s a bright green oil with fresh olive aromas that stand out over other herbaceous and fruity aromas. It is mild and very pleasant on the palate, with green notes, predominantly almond, grass and especially fruit compote. With a smooth, fresh aftertaste, it has a very well-balanced bitterness and spiciness that quickly fade”, he adds.

In Vañó’s opinion, both EVOOs maintain the characteristics of previous editions of Castillo de Canena’s First Day of Harvest: they are powerful, complex and packed with personality yet also well-balanced and extremely elegant.

This 16th edition of Castillo de Canena’s First Day of Harvest will be sold in 50-plus countries (mainly in Europe, the United States, Latin America, Japan and Australia), consolidating the brand’s position as one of the best extra virgin olive oils in the world, the result of its steadily growing reputation and acclaim since it was first launched.

Castillo de Canena

The Castillo de Canena estate, where it grows its olive groves, is nestled in the municipality of Úbeda in Jaén, bordering the Sierra de Cazorla mountain range in the heart of the upper Guadalquivir Valley. The estate’s Picual, Arbequina and Royal olive varieties, along with new crops of Pico Limón, Zarza, Taggiasca, Don Carlo, Souriani and Zaity, are grown in semi-intensive and traditional olive groves on slightly hilly, clay-loam soils, with a gentle terrain and an average altitude of 500 metres above sea level. The groves are fully irrigated, creating a natural ecosystem where cultivation is based on a deep respect for the environment and for nature. Modern precision agriculture and the most advanced systems for measuring the different phenological factors of the trees—which makes it possible to thoroughly monitor the evolution of the different groves—are combined with the maintenance of grass cover, the creation of compost, landscape restoration, the reintroduction of endangered species and the complete elimination of all types of pesticides.   

With an olive-growing tradition that dates back to the late 18th century, it was in 2003 when the Vañó family, owners of the beautiful Renaissance castle that gives its name to the company, decided to create its own brand focused exclusively on producing and marketing premium EVOOs. By monitoring the growth of the olive trees and the evolution of the fruit, they select the best groves on their estate, harvesting the olives at just the right time and then transporting the harvest in small crates to the estate’s own oil mill, its process and products certified by numerous external quality control authorities. There they are milled using state-of-the-art machinery, which is constantly updated, respecting the cold chain throughout the process and producing premium quality EVOOs consistently year after year. Intense fruity oils, powerful personality, harmonious and balanced.

Ongoing innovation, a trademark of Castillo de Canena’s throughout its history, has not only been reflected in farming and in its thoroughly modernised industrial processes, but has also been reflected in the search for new, original and unexpected products that are based on EVOOs and expanding their consumption opportunities by offering a wide range of uses and culinary applications. The company has experienced enormous international growth and is now available in over 50 markets. It was one of the first companies in its sector to have its Corporate Social Responsibility policies audited through certification to the FORÉTICA-regulated SGE-21 standard.  

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