DO Terra Alta
The origin of olive cultivation in Catalonia and particularly in the region of Terra Alta is attributed to the Arabs, so much so that even the Arabic word for olive mill, almazara, is preserved and is a clear reference to the Arabic origin. According to the historian Anton Monner in his work “Cartes de poblament de Gandesa” (1992), in the year of 1192, 850 years ago at the time of the Christian Arab transition, oil was already being made in the Terra Alta region as a base for agricultural production.
Archaeological finds (sunken ships, wine, oil amphorae, and more) indicate that even back in the time of the Hellenic and Romanesque civilizations both the Terra Alta and the neighbouring regions were exporters of oil and other products on the Mediterranean shore.
In his work ”Geographic Dictionary” (1847) Pascual Madoz cites that in 1847 (referring to the area of Gandesa) ”… in this country, abundant and fine oil, wheat, rye are produced …”. The author, also documents that about mid nineteenth century, the oil production in the Terra Alta occupied the main cultivation space, far more than nowadays. Another historian, Daniel Martínez, refers in his book “Història del Pinell” (1992) to the municipality of Pinell de Brai and also cites the olive tree as the main crop of the municipality, calculating that the area occupied 418 hectares. Although this author does not mention what year he refers to, it is assumed to be mid 1800s.
Towards 1900, the olives took second place in the crops of the Terra Alta region which represented more than 28% of the cultivated land, and distributed among all the municipalities, between 20 and 44%. The municipalities with the largest area of olive cultivation were Batea, La Fatarella and Horta de Sant Joan. The production of oil measured to around two million kilos.
PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) is a quality label recognized by the European Community which certifies the origin of an agri-food product of a given area. The quality or characteristics of the product are due essentially or exclusively to the geographical environment in which production, transformation and processing are carried out.