generations of olive wisdom
a family story since 1865 spanning 5 generations
Olive cultivation in the Mirambello Valley dates back at least 3000 years. Just east of Neapoli town, in a cradle of land between two hilltops, are traces of a large settlement dating from about 800 BC.
Ancient Dreros (the name probably means “wooded area”) was discovered by local farmers in the 1850s. They found a square stone bearing a Doric inscription: the famous oath of the 180 youths of Dreros. Every youth passing into manhood swore loyalty to his homeland by planting an olive tree and taking care of it. The trees and their olive fruit were precious and sacred because they were used in many key products from food, medicine and cosmetics, to lighting and heating.
The story of the Vassilakis family olive business is interwoven with the history of the Mirambello Valley. It begins more than 150 years ago when the first Manolis Vassilakis –“Vassilomanolis”- realized his vision to build a “fabrica”(olive mill) to press the olives harvested from the millennium-old trees of his olive grove.
He searched the area for just the right stone, a huge millstone, and with the help of several men rolled it for days over the uneven ground up the hill to Agia Sophia village. The stone olive mill was one of the first in the valley, producing life-giving olive oil for the family and their little community for many years.
Generations came and went, until the current Manolis Vassilakis, great-grandson of the original founder, after a career in the merchant navy, returned in 1981. He came home with another vision: to build a bigger operation and offer his excellent olive oil further afield.
He built a new olive mill, drawing upon his family’s accumulated wisdom in olive cultivation. With his engineering training, he harnessed modern technology to reproduce the same desirable quality in larger quantities, and capable of travelling longer distances. Today, “Vassilakis Estate” is one of Crete’s top producers and exporters of superior extra virgin olive oil. The next generation of the family, the fifth, is now actively involved in running the award-winning olive business. When you have known and cultivated olives for a century and half, you are only satisfied with the best, every time.