EVOO Stories

Olival Da Risca

Written by Veronica Lavenia

“In harmony with nature” is the mantra of Andreas Bernhard and Alfred Zehnder, owners and founders of Olival Da Risca olive farm.


From Switzerland to the wonderful Portugal to get in touch with wild nature and enchanting landscapes as only suggestive nations such as the Lusitanian land can offer. Although Portugal does not overlook the Mediterranean, it is usually included in Mediterranean Europe, and it has all the charm, color, warmth and flavors of this corner of the earth.
Expanses of vineyards and olive groves make up the geography of much of the country.


Sun and discretion are the characteristics of a nation that does not like the limelight and, precisely, for this reason it is the destination of equally reserved tourism. It is therefore not unusual that Andreas and Alfred have found their El Dorado in a culture far from noise, in this one so similar to Switzerland.


In the magic of one of the finest Portuguese Extra Virgin olive oil there is the story of a family perfectly inserted in the cultural context of a fascinating, rugged and, at the same time, generous territory.


In an area so rich in biodiversity, centuries-old olive groves alternate with younger crops to offer different varieties of organic extra virgin olive oil from Portuguese cultivars.
Olival Da Risca is the story of a consolidated love for a land that, with hard work, is capable of regulating harmonies of flavors to be discovered.



Hectares of olive groves that seem to get lost in infinity. This is the Portuguese region of the Alentejo, the most suited to olive growing not only with olive groves that cover most of the area but with the latest generation processing mills.
Located in southern Portugal, the Alentejo territory occupies about one third of the country. The name indicates “Beyond the Tagus”, or those territories located south of the main river of Portugal: the Tagus, “Tejo” in Portuguese.
Lush and flat landscapes where there are also crops of wheat as well as olive trees.
Here, since 2000, Olival Da Risca has been producing organic extra virgin olive oils of the highest quality thanks to technology but, above all, to the climatic conditions of the Alentejo region, the sunniest in Portugal.



The company team consists of the Swiss families Bernhard and Zehnder and 18 employees. A close-knit work group that, from the field, to the oil maker, works every day to ensure a quality organic EVOO.
Susanne Mäder-Zehnder, founder of the cattle farm and her husband Ralph Mäder, co-owner of Risca Grande Lda, have also been part of the family since 2002.
The company is spread over about 220 hectares. More than 35,000 olive trees grow on 170 hectares, some of which are up to 800 years old. The varieties of the olive groves are typical Portuguese: Cobrançosa, Galega Vulgar, Cordovil, Galega Grada de Serpa, Gamenha, Verdeal, Carrasquenha, Mançanilha.


Not only that, the company also grows lemons, limes, mandarins, herbs and spices, according to Demeter standards and quality. A small herd of cows also lives in Risca Grande.


The company philosophy is to nourish the soil in a balanced way, so as to give greater intensity to the flavors of the olive oil. The vegetation between the rows is mulched three times a year, that is, mowed, shredded and scattered under the trees. In this way, the soil is protected from erosion. At the same time, the vegetation cover protects against dehydration and promotes soil life.


A small herd of cows and other animal species also live in Risca Grande.


The olive harvest takes place from the end of October to the end of December and is carried out with the use of a shaker mounted on the tractor. The olives are beaten and dropped on nets that are placed under the rows of trees.
For the centenary trees, with their large foliage and their gnarled trunks, the harvest is done manually.


Immediately after harvesting, the olives arrive in the mill without any intermediate storage. The oil mill is located five kilometers from all the company’s olive groves. The oil mill is equipped with modern processing machinery that does not contain materials with softening agents. In the first stage, the leaves and branches that fall off during the olive harvest are removed with a blower. Subsequently, the olives are washed and crushed in a knife crusher. Finally, the olive paste is kneaded to extract the olive oil. With a centrifuge the olive oil contained in the pulp is separated. Immediately after separation, the oil is gently filtered through cellulose filters to remove crop residues. The oil is stored until bottling in large stainless steel tanks in the company’s air-conditioned warehouse.



The Olival Risca EVOs have Demeter organic certification. Control and quality, guaranteed at every stage of processing.


Reserva de familia is the company’s most awarded and most voted olive oil. It is produced with olives harvested at the optimal level of ripeness and from selected olives of Portuguese varieties.

Selection original is the ideal olive oil for everyday cooking with its complex fruity-aromatic flavor, combined with a medium level of bitterness and spiciness. An EVOO with a strong personality, intense and persistent taste.

Selection mild is made from traditional Portuguese olive varieties and adds a delicate flavor to dishes, without overpowering the flavor. An ideal EVOO for daily use.


Primeur has a high content of polyphenols, unsaturated fatty acids. Limited edition only for a short time from November. Prepared with green olives from the first days of the harvest.

Antique obtained from 200 to 800 years old trees in our oldest olive groves of the Galega Grada de Serpa and Gamenha variety. Limited production of 4,000 bottles.




Monte Novo da Fonte Corcho,

Sta. Iría – Apartado 89 – 7830-304

Serpa- Portogallo




About the author

Veronica Lavenia

Her scientific papers have been published in some of the most renowned international literary academic journals.
Italian based writer and magazine contributor.
Author of six books, some of her works have appeared in the most popular International Food magazines.
Food Connoisseur.
EVOO Communicator. Founder of the EVOO Column at "The Wolf Post".
Writer| Translator| Communication Manager at "The Wolf Post", since the birth of the magazine.

She has always lived in the countryside. She has learned to "get her hands dirty", working and reaping the benefits of the fields, since she was a child. She participated in grape harvests, olive picking and assisted in the subsequent stages of production.
Food & Wine tourism were the family holidays that educated her on the subject.

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