Designation of Origin: D.O. Saimaa

Credits: Visit Saimaa / Tiisanmäki Lamb Farm


Only producers who meet stringent quality criteria are granted the prestigious Saimaa origin label

D.O. Saimaa ensures the product or ingredient's exceptional quality and maintains strict standards throughout the entire production chain.
Credits: Visit Saimaa / Tiisanmäki Lamb Farm

Saimaa D. O. signifies that the product or ingredient has been meticulously produced in the Saimaa region, adhering to rigorous quality criteria.

The abbreviation D.O. stands for "designation of origin." When selecting products labeled with D.O., consumers can be assured that these items have been manufactured in a specific region, adhering to stringent quality criteria. The D.O. label not only signifies high-quality standards throughout the production chain but also reflects a responsible approach to the environment, sustainable development, and social responsibility.

The designation of origin showcases the cultural essence of the region and highlights the uniqueness of its culinary and cultural heritage, playing a crucial role in preserving this heritage for future generations. D.O.-labeled products have gained significant popularity, particularly in Southern and Central Europe. Notable examples of D.O.-designated products include champagne from the Champagne region of France and Parma ham from Italy.

D.O. Saimaa proudly stands as Finland's inaugural regional origin and quality label. Its esteemed producers, food processors, and retailers actively support local, high-quality production, making products under the D.O. Saimaa label easily traceable.

Cold-smoked gourmet delicacies from lake fish caught in clean natural waters by Harri's Food Factory
Credits: Visit Saimaa / Harri's Food Factory

Examples of D.O. Saimaa products

The D.O. Saimaa production in the Saimaa region can be categorized into two main types, as noted by Maisa Häkkinen from Visit Saimaa: food and everything food-related, along with local design and handicrafts. The thriving D.O. Saimaa network currently boasts 30 food producer companies and 4 handicraft producer companies on board.

“Holding the D.O. Saimaa label is of great importance to us," says Sirpa Villanen, owner of Ollinmäki Winery. "With the D.O. label, we aim to showcase our locality to our international guests. While we have proudly held the Nordic Swan label for years, it is well-known among Finns but not as familiar to international travellers who likely recognize the D.O. label more easily. Joining the D.O. Saimaa network is a natural fit for us, as it aligns perfectly with our core values.

Every ingredient we use is sourced locally, and sustainability has always been a key priority for us. We take pride in producing our products right here in the Saimaa region, where our ingredients are grown. The local nature enriches our winery with perfect aromas and flavors, like tar, spruce tips, or birch sap – all sourced from the picturesque Saimaa area. Moreover, collaborating with other local businesses is an essential aspect of our operations.”

Wine tasting at Ollinmäki Winery
Credits: Ollinmäki Winery

"With a clear understanding of the product's origin, we can guarantee its quality"

"Operating on one of the numerous islands of Lake Saimaa, it's natural for us to prioritize the use of local ingredients. As proud holders of the STF-label, offering locally sourced products is of paramount importance, we aim to avoid products that have to travel from the other side of the world. Our guests visit us to relish in the flavors of the region. For instance, our vendaces proudly bear the D.O. Saimaa label, which not only enhances the experience for our guests but also streamlines our sourcing process.

With a clear understanding of the product's origin, we can guarantee its quality. Take our vendace catch, for instance, sourced from locations spanning just a few to a few dozen kilometers away from us. As for these rhubarbs in the picture, they were freshly picked by me from our neighbor's garden, a mere 100 meters away from our premises," says Paula Okkola, owner of Okkola Holiday cottages and restaurant Niinipuu.

Paula Okkola with rhubarbs just picked from neighbour's garden plot

"Originally, the D.O. Saimaa network was primarily intended for food producers, but it later expanded to include handicrafts as well. While we already hold the Design from Finland and Finnish Key Flag labels, they may not be as widely recognized among international travellers. Thus, with the D.O. Saimaa label, we aim to showcase our locality to visitors from around the world.

As a frequent traveller myself, I personally prefer purchasing locally produced products and souvenirs. I believe many visitors to Finland share this sentiment and would like to support the local community during their travels," says Pauliina Rundgren, owner of Pauliina Rundgren Handicrafts whose shop is located at Kenkävero Manor in Mikkeli.

"For us, it's crucial that our foreign guests recognize the uniqueness of our locality. Our production heavily relies on rare handicraft techniques, and preserving this know-how and our local traditions for future generations is of paramount importance. All the handicrafts we produce are proudly made in Finland, from the initial planning stages to the final manufacturing," Rundgren concludes.

Unique Finnish hand-made design at Pauliina Rungren's shop in Kenkävero, Mikkeli
Credits: Pauliina Rundgren