In Portugal, there are references to olive trees dating back to the time of the Visigothic Code which mentioned laws that protected agriculture and penalized anyone who “plucked other people’s trees”.
Reading the medieval toll documents, one can conclude that the olive oil was one of the main foodstuffs of the local commerce since it was a valuable asset.
During the Discoveries age, olive oil and wine were two of the most exported agricultural products and the Portuguese olive oil won a prize at the Paris exposition of 1889.
Nowadays, our olive oil is recognised all over the world for its quality, flavour and authenticity and is part of most of the Mediterranean recipes.
The olive is processed with modern methods and olive oil is classified according to its production process.
The three types of olive oil are also classified according to its type of culture and degree of acidity: virgin, extra-virgin and singled varietal.
Throughout the country you will find olive oil which differs according to the different microclimates. You may find it fruity, slightly thick, golden or yellow with a touch of green, bitter, spicy or sweeter, soft or intense. This is how Portuguese olive oil is.
The main olive-growing region in Portugal is Alentejo, followed by Trás-os-Montes, in the northeast. You will find big extensions of olive trees from this region to Beira interior Norte.
If you follow the river Tejo all the way to Lisboa, you will reach Ribatejo, another region where olive oil with DOP is produced: it is here in Ribatejo that you will find cities like Abrantes, Santarém, Torres Novas and Tomar. In Tomar there is a castle and the Convent of Christ and both are classified as World Heritage by Unesco. There are also the King’s presses which date back to the XII and XIII centuries, when the city was the main place of the Knights Templar Order.
Further south, there is Alentejo: in the north you find cities like Portalegre and Reguengos de Monsaraz. Towards the interior of the country, you can get to know cities such as Portel, Vidigueira and Torrão. Alentejo is the biggest oil-growing area in Portugal, with its traditional, semi-intensive and intensive olive growing and three DOP brands. An example of an important production is the olive oil from Moura, which includes the productions from Serpa and Vila Verde de Ficalho that can be seen in the Olive oil museum, including the press of Varas do Fojo.