Much like the Andalusian region where they have made their home for the last century, the Muela family of Priego de Córdoba has evolved with the changing times. While historical records reflect that millers from the region have been winning awards for their oils as far back as 1912, their village may be better known historically for its 18th century baroque architecture than its oil production. This detailed styling can be seen in Priego de Córdoba’s many churches, tabernacles, and altarpieces, and especially during Easter week, when practitioners carry intricately carved thrones up Calvario Hill. Of course the Moors ruled Andalusia centuries earlier, and the beautiful Barrio de la Villa in the Muslim quarter reflects this history, with its labyrinth of narrow, winding streets full of aromatic flowers. Yet the legacy of olive oil endures at the root of the region's past; recent archaeological excavations here unearthed mill stones used for pressing olives dating back to the 2nd Century AD.
With the growing understanding of their region's history with olive oil production, local producers established a Denomination of Origin to protect their work and honor those that came before them. Created in 1995 and officially registered by the EU in 1999, the DOP Priego de Córdoba registry not only guarantees the origin of the product, but also establishes the degree of control carried out throughout the process. The specific DOP area is situated in the south-east of the Province of Córdoba in the heart of the Sierras Subbéticas and official DOP documents claim, "it is not a day or a fad, it is an attitude rooted in oil mills for a long time. The enclave of our olive groves in the middle of the Natural Park, our traditional and centenary olive groves, and the good work of our farmers and millers, these have made us today the most awarded Denomination of Origin in the world."
It is not a day or a fad, it is an attitude rooted in oil mills for a long time... (making us) today the most awarded Denomination of Origin in the world.
Around the time of the DOP's establishment, the Muela family business began to evolve into its modern iteration. Perhaps inspired by their village of Priego de Córdoba, one of the most beautiful villages in Andalusia where monument-like buildings often have the look and feel of a traditional Andalusian farmhouse, the third generation of the Muela family added a focus on beauty and design. These efforts led to their now-signature DOP Priego de Córdoba product, the exquisite extra virgin olive oil, Venta del Barón.
As the story goes, the name is attributed to the Baron of Santaella who had his title stripped as a penalty for killing his wife. Without a title to their name, his heirs turned to olive farming in the Sierra de Priego. Across many generations their great dedication to the craft of olive oil production ultimately resulted in an oil of such great quality that the king restored the title of "Baron" to the family. True to its namesake, Venta del Barón continues to be recognized for excellence year after year. Including being named the best virgin olive oil in Spain four times in the category of "fruity, bitter, green oils" by Spain’s Ministry of Agriculture, and three times awarded in the category of "intense, fruity oils" from the International Olive Council, Venta del Barón has to date won more than 100 prizes in 16 different countries. While the Muelas continually push to innovate and improve their products, Venta del Barón remains positioned among the best Extra Virgin Olive Oils in the World.