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Home Activities Garda DOP Oil

Garda DOP Oil

“Garda” DOP Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Discover the “Green Gold” of the Garda

Since 2002, the European Union protects the olive oil produced at the furthest northern latitude with the DOP label (Protected Designation of Origin). This is how the “Garda” DOP extra virgin olive oil came to life. However, this designation of origin is incomplete, as there are actually three different kinds of “Garda” DOP oil: Bresciano, made from selected olive groves in the province of Brescia, Orientale, from the provinces of Verona and Mantua, and Trentino, from the province of Trento. A distinctive trait of the region encompassing the Garda lake is its Mediterranean micro-climate, with mild temperatures and the perfect humidity level for growing olives.

About 70 different DOP extra virgin olive oils are made in this region, mostly in family-run oil mills where the so-called “green gold” of the Garda area has been produced for generations. The DOP label links this oil not only to the area, but also to specific processing techniques: the olives are hand-picked and, before milling, they are allowed to rest for 24-48 hours on crates through which air can circulate; the oil is cold-pressed and filtered through cotton cloths before it is bottled.

It is a process which evokes ancient skills, and the “Consorzio per la Tutela dell'Olio Extra Vergine di Oliva DOP Garda” (Consortium for the Protection of “Garda” DOP Extra Virgin Olive oil) works to safeguard the region and its traditions, as well as monitoring the quality standards and assisting the producers in milling and bottling. The “Museo dell'Olio d'Oliva” (Olive Oil Museum), located in Cisano Bardolino at the Cisano oil mill, is also pursuing a project to preserve and diffuse ancient oil making techniques. Here, you will be able to see ancient tools up close and breathe in the tradition.

With 2400 hectares of land dedicated to growing olives protected by the DOP label, “Garda” DOP extra virgin oil accounts for just 1% of Italian olive oil production. The reasons why this is such a small niche market trace back to the rigorous selection process undergone by the olives heading to the mill.

The standards required by the Consorzio to protect the product call for specific chemical and organoleptic properties, for certain kinds of olives (Casaliva, Frantoio and Leccino are the most common) from limited areas of origin (in the provinces of Trento, Brescia, Verona and Mantua) to be employed, and set the maximum yield.

“Garda” olive oil is light and fruity, an indication that the fruit used to make it was fresh and healthy, and leaves an almond aftertaste. This makes it quite a mild oil, thus well-suited to many uses in cooking and even baking. It is easily digestible and rich in antioxidants. Other than the straw yellow color with light green glints, one of its main distinctive qualities is low acidity – not to be confused with the light bitter notes on the palate.

The region around Lake Garda has developed its traditional cuisine to make the most of local products, both natural and artisan.
Many classic recipes are simple dishes of fish or vegetables which need a delicate oil, like for example sardines with oil and parsley or beef with Bresciano oil.

But you can also enjoy “Garda” DOP oil drizzled over a slice of bread, as a merenda (or snack) at one of the oil mills welcoming visitors to their estates, offering the chance to get acquainted with the genuine taste of the product on site. Setting off in search of the right mill, among the green olive groves on the shores of the lake, can turn into an exciting experience, in which you will get to know the area through its traditions.

Also, food events are organized all year round. They offer the perfect chance to taste “Garda” DOP extra virgin olive oil along with all the other traditional products from the region.
Photo Credits: Oleificio Cisano

Things to do:

Oil festivals:

  • Olive Festival - Torri del benaco
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