Scourtinerie establishment in 1882
Originaly located in the center of Nyons, La Scourtinerie quickly settled in the imposing building it still occupies today, a former silk factory. At that time, Ferdinand and Marie Fert were weavers. It was in 1892 that Ferdinand invented and patented a new machine allowing the mechanical weaving of scourtins using coconut fiber yarn. Coconut fiber, originaly from South-West India, is rot-resistant and much sturdy than alfa. This new scourtins could be washed and reused for several years. The success was ther and the company remained very prosperous until the 1956 great frost, which caused the destruction of almost all the olive tree in Provence.
The 1956 great frost
The 1956 frost ruined many olive growers as well as La Scourtinerie, which had no utility anymore. During this terrible winter, frost breaks the bark of most olive trees. They were replaced by fast growing vines and apricots trees. It took decades for olive growing to recover. The city of Nyons used to have 10 olive mills but only 1 survived this infamous time. In addition, further to events in Algeria that disrupted olive oil production, orders of scourtins almost completely stopped.
George Fert’s genius idea
George Fert noticed that many people used old scourtins as doormats. It was indeed a provencal tradition to place old scourtins before the front door. George Fert had the bright idea to dye coconut fiber and to transform the scourtins intented for oil mills into decorative objects, using the same machines. The « scourtin de Provence » was born ; by transforming the original pouch destined to receive the olive paste into a flat scourtin and by developing a range of sizes and colors.
The unexpected publicity stunt
Thank you Jacques Tati ! Indeed, the filmmaker helped boost scourtins sales from La Scourtinerie. In his movie « Mon oncle », the house has a contemporary decoration with scourtins used as « stepping stones » doormats.
Store opening in 1979
In 1970, Alain Fert, Ferdinand and Marie’s grandson, joined the family business. In 1979, he opened the original shop where one still find scourtins today as well as local products. Art & craft from India, where the coconut fiber comes from, are also on display. Always circular and made of coconut fiber, the scourtins are declined as table mats, doormats and rugs with shimmering colors, whose diameter range from 25 cm to 2,5 meters. Frederique and Arnaud Fert, Marie and Ferdinand’s great grandchildren, entertain the family tradition in the ancestral factory. Sophie, Frederique’s daughter, who recently joined the company, is the 5th generation. The last French scourtin manufacture flows peacefully on the banks of l’Eygues.
In 2013, Frédérique and Arnaud Fert decided to create a museum tracing the family history and the evolution of scourtin manufacturing over 130 years and 5 generations.
Make scourtins quality a success
In recent years, the scourtin has rediscovered its primary filter function. While most of the production remains ornemental, considering the renewal of artisanal presses, the traditional scourtin for oil press is again woven. Some rare mills, in the Var and Corsica, still use them for olive oil extraction. Also, some large wineries use them with vertical presses in order to produce high quality wine. Historically, priority has always been given to product quality, to the preservation and the transmission of this know-how.