Diego Rodríguez Sancho
Oil Master Miller at the associated cooperative San Juan cooperative in Villanueva de San Juan (Sevilla).
Diego considers himself a lucky man. At least he was 21 years ago when he started his professional activity in the cooperative thanks to a lottery in which he was chosen randomly among a dozen candidates. “It’s funny how a moment of fortune can mark a person’s career path, and of course, his life,” Diego confesses.
At that time there were two masters, in charge of training them and passing the baton on to them years later, when he became a master olive oil maker, that is, responsible for the production of extra virgin olive oil in the associated mill located in Villanueva de San Juan, in the heart of the Sierra Sur of Seville.
As for his work during the campaign, Diego is clear that “whoever is looking for me is sure to find me in the olive unloading area”, as he considers a proper selection of olives to be key to achieving top quality juice. “Once all the olives have been received, it’s time for the second part, supervising that everything is in order in the mill,” says Diego, also pointing out that cleanliness is an indispensable condition in the entire production process.
Once the campaign is over, his main tasks are a review and overhaul of all the machinery, renewing those that are technically obsolete.
The associated cooperative of Villanueva de San Juan has the singularity within the Oleoestepa group of being located in the mountains, which significantly marks the agronomy and the organoleptic properties of the resulting juice. “Here the main enemies are frost and the fly, which fortunately is not so common in the territories of the associated cooperatives,” Diego points out.
Looking back, he is struck by the relevant consideration that cleaning has achieved in recent years, as a key factor in achieving top quality olive juices. In this regard, Diego recalls that “when I started, the mills were full of mud, branches and other debris from the harvest, whereas now you can eat on the floor”.
As for the integration of the oil mill in the Oleoestepa cooperative project seven years ago, he considers that it has been a before and after, with many outstanding benefits. “Before, they did not control the temperature and it was after joining Oleoestepa that they began to receive technical advice and to take into account these decisive factors in milling,” says Diego, who is very grateful for Oleoestepa’s continuous training courses, with which he is able to keep up to date with the latest developments in the sector.
Throughout all these years, Diego has collected many anecdotes, among which he recalls with relief how one night while he was working in the mill they broke in. “Fortunately, it all turned out to be a big scare.
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