Laconia family firm imports top Greek olive oil to the USA

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Laconia family firm imports top Greek olive oil to the USAThe story of a family business rooted in Laconia, Greece that imports some of the world’s best Greek extra virgin olive oil and flavored olive oil to the USA

By Lisa Radinovsky

In 2009, two brothers from the village of Skala in Laconia, Greece decided they should not sell the olive groves that had been in their family for four generations. Instead, they embarked on a challenging venture that takes them back and forth across the ocean, from the land in Greece that gives them their olive oil to their current base in the US.

Their father, Vasilios Pierrakos, had remained in Greece to care for their olive groves when the rest of the family left the farm years earlier, emigrating to the USA in search of a brighter future for the two brothers and their two sisters. As he grew older, however, Vasilios became tired. His hard work on the farm, his distance from his family, and his disappointment that his beloved Koroneiki olive trees were not gaining the recognition they deserved were wearing him out. He began to wonder, should the family sell their land?

Vasilios’s sons, Diamantis and Dino, said no. Unwilling to relinquish the olive trees that connected them with their homeland and its traditions, they decided to establish their own olive oil brand. With the support of the entire family, the brothers dedicated themselves to following in their father’s footsteps, continuing the tradition of their forebears with the honesty, integrity, and hard work they learned from their father’s example.

Emphasizing their Greek roots and identity, Diamantis and Dino Pierrakos named their brand “Laconiko” after the region where they and their olives originate, the region once dominated by the ancient Spartans: Laconia. They import their authentic, 100% Greek, monovarietal, single estate extra virgin olive oil and flavored olive oils into the USA.

The brothers attribute the many awards their olive oil has received at prestigious international olive oil competitions to their team’s great care during olive oil production and storage. They cultivate their trees using organic methods, handpick their olives during an early harvest when the olives yield the healthiest and most flavorful oil, transport the fruit in crates rather than bags to avoid premature crushing, extract the olives’ oil within hours of their harvest to ensure the highest quality, and store their extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) at a consistently cold temperature to keep it fresh.

Dedicated to the health of both human beings and the planet, Diamantis, Dino, and their team are working toward organic certification of their olive groves, which are located in a protected Natura 2000 area near the Evrotas River estuary at the southeastern tip of Greece’s Peloponnese peninsula. They use no chemical pesticides and no more irrigation than necessary. Located just meters from the sea, the groves’ sandy soil acts as a natural filter, removing contaminants and helping to keep their 5,000 Koroneiki olive trees pure and healthy. The trees thrive in that ideal sunny climate, surrounded by herbs and wildflowers and touched by the sea breeze.

The Pierrakos family is especially proud of the high polyphenol content in their extra virgin olive oils. Polyphenols, or phenolic compounds, are natural antioxidants with antimicrobial, anti-atherogenic, and antiviral effects; one of them, oleocanthal, is an anti-inflammatory comparable to ibuprofen. Scientific studies also suggest some of the phenolic compounds found in extra virgin olive oil may help prevent and treat cancer and cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases.

Laconiko EVOOs have far lower acidity and peroxide values than the International Olive Council or the even stricter California Olive Oil Council require for an olive oil to be designated “extra virgin.” All of this means Laconiko extra virgin olive oil is healthier than many other olive oils, with its fresh flavor lasting longer. Laconiko’s complex, well-harmonized combination of fruitiness, bitterness, and pungency has been praised and awarded by countless consumers, tasters, judges, and major media outlets, winning multiple awards in international olive oil competitions every year.

Diamantis Pierrakos in front of a large crate of harvested green olives
Diamantis and Dino returned to Laconia each year to help their father with the olive harvest. This was a labor of love and a time of bonding until their father passed away suddenly in the midst of the 2016 harvest. Although deeply saddened, their family continued Vasilios’s work, dedicating their efforts to him and the values he passed on to them. They were grateful that Vasilios had lived to see many of Laconiko’s accomplishments.

Once their family business was established, Laconiko branched out into the enticing arena of flavored olive oils, vinegar, and olive oil soaps. Made with their Koroneiki extra virgin olive oil, Laconiko’s dozens of different flavored olive oils have proven popular and widely acclaimed. In 2020 alone, their flavored oils won an astonishing 73 awards from eight different international olive oil competitions, from Los Angeles to Tokyo. And that is in addition to their 26 awards for their two EVOOs in the same year.

Even so, Diamantis and Dino are not content to rest on their laurels; rather, they continue to “give 200% effort as we always have,” as Diamantis puts it. Nor do they just say they believe in integrity and family values; they show it. During the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic, they donated the profits earned from their online sales to the brick and mortar stores that had to close down during quarantine. Those stores had believed in and supported them before they became a recognized, successful brand, so the brothers wanted to help them continue during a difficult time.

As Laconiko’s website explains, in selling their own brand of healthy, flavorful Greek extra virgin olive oil, “we were sharing the essence of our family legacy. This oil symbolizes generational aspiration, parental sacrifice, time-honored tradition, hopes, dreams, love, passion, community, connection, hard work, integrity, and the soul of a family that believes in its product, and in each other.” The Pierrakos family and their team are determined to honor those values and that legacy by continuing their honest efforts to produce the best, healthiest Greek extra virgin olive oil and flavored oils they can provide to their customers.

Thanks to Laconiko for the photos used with this article.

All businesses, organizations, and competitions involved with Greek olive oil, the Mediterranean diet, and/or agrotourism or food tourism in Greece, as well as anyone else interested in supporting Greeks working in these sectors, are invited to consider the advertising and sponsorship opportunities on the Greek Liquid Gold: Authentic Extra Virgin Olive Oil website. The only wide-ranging English-language site featuring news and information from the Greek olive oil world, it has helped companies reach consumers in more than 210 countries around the globe.

“Originally published on Greek Liquid Gold: Authentic Extra Virgin Olive Oil (greekliquidgold.com). See that site for recipes with olive oil, photos from Greece, and olive oil news and information.”

Photo Source: pixabay

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