EDMONTON — A St. Albert man is producing premium extra virgin olive oil in Greece and distributing it exclusively within Alberta.
George Pananos grew up in Thessaloniki, Greece. He moved to Canada in 1978 and it was not until a few years ago that he realized there was something missing from Alberta’s food market – a “pure and natural extra virgin olive oil.”
After inheriting a family farm in Greece, Pananos decided to develop the land to produce olives. What started as a hobby for the Edmonton-area resident is now a prized product in Alberta. Harvesting and exporting the bottles of wine in Greece, he then exports the olive oil back to Canada.
“As it happens with every small producer of olive oil who is proud of what he makes, we entered the very prestigious New York International Olive Oil Competition (NYIOOC) just to see how good our product was,” said Pananos.
“We didn’t know how good it was in comparison to others. To our surprise, we won gold in New York in 2019,” he added.
Entering the prestigious competition again in 2020, Pananos took home gold two years in a row. With a total of two gold medals and one silver medal, Pananos says it shows that he has a good product.
Priding himself on producing a natural product with the best practices, the St. Albert resident says his olive oil is distinguished by a “grass flavour.” Using green olives, Pananos says the olives will not produce the same amount of oil as brown olives but the quality is much better.
“We sacrifice quantity for quality,” he said.
A bold flavour, fruitful, and grass-like flavour and high amount of antioxidants is what makes Pananos’ olive oil a sought-after product.
Serving primarily in Edmonton and Calgary, the Pillar Grove Estate bottles are sold in St. Albert’s Italian Bakery’s Mercato and Edmonton’s Italian Centre.
“We are very proud to say that we distribute only in Alberta,” he said.
Pillar Grove Estate produced 4,000 bottles in 2019. In 2020, the farm produced 5,500 bottles of extra virgin olive oil.
With files from Darcy Seaton
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