|Olive trees are nothing new in the Valley of Nekeas. They have been grown in the valley since time immemorial, providing the families living in nearby villages with oil. The growing of olive trees in the region, however, differs somewhat from that in other areas because the Valley of Nekeas is one of the northernmost places on the peninsula where they thrive.
In addition to the remains of small olive-oil presses in some of the old houses in the village, there also exist records of two presses used by locals to supply themselves with oil in the XIX century. The first cooperative olive-oil mill was built in 1920 and soon turned out to be too small. Another mill equipped with more modern machinery was constructed in 1947. This project was cut short in 1956 when a freezing cold snap, which saw the temperature drop to -21ºC, finished off all the olive trees in the valley. Olive trees (like grapevines) are only possible here thanks to the intervention of 3 geographical and climatic circumstances:
1ª. The extremely humid northeast winds from the Atlantic Ocean are checked by the mountains of the Sierras of Urbasa and Andía.
2ª. To the north, the Sierra of El Perdón protects the valley from cold winds from the Pyrenees and Central Europe.
3ª. Warmer air from the Mediterranean reaches the valley from the south, allowing the trees to grow and their olives to ripen.
Despite this Mediterranean influence, temperatures in the Valley of Nekeas drop in the winter and border on the danger threshold for olive trees. In the summer, temperatures are medium/high although there is a significant contrast between day and night. This contrast means that the olives ripen slowly, making for an oil with a highly complex composition. The early arrival of frost in November means that the olives have to be harvested promptly, meaning the oil always possesses its highly-appreciated fresh, fruity, grassy nuances.
Two varieties have been chosen for the new olive groves in Nekeas: Arbequina and Arróniz (autochthonous to the north of Navarra).