The origin of olive oil estate Les Opies … a tale of friendship.

Epicurians, travellers, art and food lovers, Philippe Boegli and Bertrand Daudey leave northeastern France during the 1990s.

They meet in Aix-en-Provence in which they are very passionate about; its history, architecture and gastronomy. Both wanting to get closer to Earth and to participate in the promotion of Provençal culinary heritage, in a world where taste is standardised and sometimes even destroyed, they created the Domaine des Opies (olive oil estate) in Eyguières, an old village tucked away in the southern side of the Alpilles mountains, among spring waters.

At the time they had no olive growing experience, but they shared a huge desire to produce the healthiest olive oil possible. From 2012 to 2015 they acquired 4 hectares (almost 10 acres) of olive groves and 700 olive trees that have never known a synthetic chemical treatment. The first vintage of 100% natural oil was produced in 2013, under the label ‘Nature & Progrès.‘

The incredible view from the domain on the Opies range, highest point of the Alpilles mountains with an altitude of 498 meters. Nature is precious and it’s important to protect it. It has everything it already needs. That is why our olive oil production is home-made, 100% natural and purposely modest. Each olive tree is perceived as a living being with which we share things, and the oil has something that makes it different from the others, its taste.

The soil of the Alpilles

Typically Mediterranean, wonderfully wild, the chain of the Alpilles welcomes the olive Domaine Les Opies. The massif extends in length, bathing under the sun, from the south of Avignon to the borders of the Camargue. With a low altitude, the Alpilles peak at the Tour des Opies (deformation of “Aupiho”, Alpilles in Provençal), at 493 meters.

On a limestone and clay soil, the valleys welcome olive groves as far as the eye can see. These majestic inhabitants, whose presence dates back to antiquity, can live more than three centuries, and regenerate after the greatest disasters, thanks to its almost indestructible strain.

Geology and the soil

The Alpilles have an eroded massif with terrain consisting of limestone formations and marls of the Lower Cretaceous. Going further south, it consists of dolomitic limestone from the Jurassic. The tertiary deposits, of fluvial-lacustrine origin and of very heterogeneous nature (limestone, conglomerates, sandstone, marl, sands), outcrop largely within west-east oriented synclines. On the Alpilles, frost action of limestone rocks in the Quaternary has played a crucial role, giving rise to stony or greze deposits that extend under recent colluvial or alluvial clogging.

The southern slopes of the Alpilles massif are marked out by the edge of the old Crau, characterized by its alluvium of limestone and quartz pebbles of Villafranchien, transported by the Durance which had crossed the gap of Saint-Pierre-de-Vence.

The climate of the Alpilles

The Mediterranean climate of the Alpilles is not distinguished by its great variability of temperatures and precipitation. Rainfall, about 700 mm per year, is concentrated over 50 days, especially in autumn and spring, with intense thunderstorm episodes. Summers are dry and hot, often scorching with sunshine is exceptional, exceeding 2800 hours per year, while winters are mild, with January as the coldest month. The average temperature is 13.6°C, with risks of spring frosts on the northern slope of the Alpilles. Sheltered from strong winds like the Mistral (north wind) and the Tramontane (west wind), blow more than 100 days a year, our olive groves benefit from a regular wind that ensures the pollination that our olive trees need.

These climatic characteristics determine a specific flora and fauna, adapted to long periods of water deficit. On the land of the Opies, you may come across the snake of Montpellier or the ocellated lizard. Many birds also grace the area with their singing, such as the southern shrike, the ortolan sparrow, the pitcher warbler or the blue robin. Several species of raptors fly over the place, including the famous borelli eagle, known for its impressive flights and dives.

Olive groves are mostly located on stony limestone soils and the total limestone rate on average 25%, can reach 40%. The amount of active limestone is limited to 8%. The pH of the soil varies between 8 and 8.5.

The olive estate hosts the four typical varieties of the Appellation: Berruguette/Aglandeau, Grossane, Salonenque, Verdale des Bouches-du-Rhône, but also Picholine, to a lesser extent.