Konstantinos and Christina Strimbakou from Filiatra set out to prove that Greek olive oil is not only exceptional but it can compete with the biggest international brands. And they’ve done it, if the awards they’ve received are any indication: the best single variety olive oil in the world, in the EVO IOOC competition in Italy, and inclusion in the Italian catalogue, Flos Olei, of the best olive oils in the world.
“My parents began in 1976 with 19 Koroneiki trees in Filiatra, Messinia, and after a lot of hard work, they managed to make it into a huge olive grove with 2,500 trees. My brother Konstantinos busied himself with the estate and I left to study art in Florence. I returned and it’s true that here where I was born there’s no work for someone with my qualifications.
At some point a Dutch friend who had cycled from Holland to Filiatra listened to my complaints and it was he who opened my horizons, saying, ‘silly girl, don’t you see what wealth you have right before your eyes?’ We were selling the extra virgin olive oil we were producing in bulk. I had a talk with my family about proceeding to the next phase. We invited special olive oil consultants from Italy to talk to us about cultivation and quality control, we joined a Dutch embassy programme called The Olive Grove, and at the same time I was following seminars in olive oil tasting in Italy and I became an international taster, representing my country as an international expert.
We worked with Bob Studio, renamed ourselves Lia Cultivators, which contains both the words Cultivation and Culture (my old ‘art’) and we created a modern logo which depicts the old millstone, the traditional way they used to produce olive oil, and we placed it on a modern jar.
We spent seven years working towards our goal, travels abroad, lots of work but at this moment we are enjoying the fruits of our labour, since Lia Cultivators is now exporting 90% of our production to to countries like Great Britain, the United States, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Germany.”