One of those people was the Spanish president, General Franco, who frequented the home with his wife. And as a memorial to the visits to the estate by the late president, a marble placard was engraved, with the dates the president visited, and placed by the main entrance of the house.
As we walked through the living room, we stopped at some photographs on a wall, and told me a joke about one of the people in the photograph. Many of the photographs were of people attending great celebrations hosted by the Count and his family. On another wall he had deer antlers from hunts that took place around the estate.
He led me down a narrow hall in the house and showed me the room where the General Franco and his wife stayed when they visited the estate. The general was an avid horseback rider and this photo him on a horse is proudly displayed in the room.
“The people outside Spain appreciates the history of Spain more than those that lives here” said the count. I assured him that my interview with him is to share the story of the past present and future as it relates to the business of olives and Spanish olive oil at Arroyovil.
What was amazing to me was watching and trying to keep up with Don Andrés as he showed me around his olive estate.
We went to his olive oil processing facility, and explained the uses of every piece of equipment, in such detail, that one could think that he had engineered them himself.
We then walked over to the rural retreat he maintains on Arroyovil the Count told that the retreat is for guest that would like to spend time in the middle of an Andalucían olive grove to enjoy the tranquility he so cherishes.
When we arrive at the well maintain building, he unlock the entry door, and led the way up the stairs to the upper room. Again I was amazed at how fast he walked up the stairs. From the room, you could the Sierra Mágina Mountain and part the olive grove.
After leaving La Cateta de Arroyovil, we headed back to main house and sat on the veranda and enjoyed some good tapas while we talk about olive oil.
But Don Andrés has not always been a farmer. He was the president of Westinghouse Spain until he left corporate life to pursue the production of high quality Spanish olive oil. He told me “the challenge is producing handcrafted olive oil, year after year, that reaches the required quality” and that the Conde de Argillo brand is not for all markets. Instead it is intended for a limited and select clientèle, that wants genuine olive oil, made in Spain, which demonstrates the same qualities season after season. And also that olive oils must have unique character, just as wines of various vintages, have unique character. The smell, flavor and appearance of the oil, should reflect the differences, in the various olive varieties and crops. Undoubtedly, the combination of climate, water, soil and the grove management at Arroyovil, are responsible for the distinctive characteristics, of the Conde de Argillo brand olive oil. Don Andrés says that the process of producing superior oils begins with having excellent raw material. This means, the correct cultivar of olive, for the climate, in his case the Picual olive. A fresh, healthy, properly ripened olive, is the only one, good enough, to go into the Conde de Argillo extra virgin olive oil, he elaborated.
There is no better salesman for the Conde de Argillo brand extra virgin olive oil than Don Andrés. But he was also quick to credit his personnel, that have been involved in olive oil production on Arroyovil for many years, and who show great diligence and care, for creating the oil, that has made the Conde de Argillo brand, so much desired.
Before leaving Don Andrés gave me a signed copy of his book entitled, “Franco en familia” which, reviles aspects of the private life of General Franco over almost 40 years. He dedicated his book to his mother, condessa Esperanza Bordiu and father Jose Maria Martinez Ortega.
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