SOUTH Gippsland’s olive groves have once again punched above their weight with a strong showing at the annual Australian International Olive Awards held in Adelaide earlier this month.
Three olive groves, all members of Southern Gippsland Olives; Grassy Spur Olives at Stony Creek, Olive Twist at Jumbunna and Devon Siding Olives at Devon Siding, won between them eight gold medals, five silver medals and one bronze medal.
Olive Twist went on to be declared Champion/Best in Class for its Mandarin Agrumato in the Flavoured Citrus Class.
Grassy Spur Olives were declared Champion/Best in Class for their Picual variety EVOO in Class 2 Medium, and then went on to be declared the Best in State (Victoria) olive oil.
All three groves are small family-run enterprises, with the common goal of achieving an excellent olive oil. These results have proved all three groves have been recognised as amongst the best in Australia.
Helen Wright of Grassy Spur Olives was delighted with the recognition she and her husband Peter received for the olive oil they produce onsite at Stony Creek and also for the others in their group.
But it’s by no means the first time Grassy Spur has won awards and the same goes for Olive Twist and Devon Siding.
“We were fortunate enough to be awarded best in Australia in 2013 and we won gold and silver at an international olive oil show in New York earlier in the year for our Picholine (gold) and Picual (silver) oils.”
The extra virgin olive oil produced by these three growers is of the finest quality suitable for dipping, salads, cooking and all food preparation requirements.
Peter and Helen Wright planted their 1500 olive trees on a 22 acre property at Stony Creek in 2005 and started production in 2008 but it has been in recent years that the quality of the location, the olives and their processes have really made their mark.
“We haven’t got any more room for trees but we like it the way it is.
“We’ve just sold out of all our 2016 product and are selling out 2017 varieties now.
“The olives are harvested and the oil made in June-July every year. It’s placed into stainless steel barrels to settle, then we bottle it and it sits for a while after that.”
Grassy Spur supplies various retail outlets, restaurants and fine food delis with their produce so much so that you’ll not see them at local markets but you can buy online at: https://www.grassyspurolives.com.au/
Olive Twist Olive Oil, operated by Julianne and George Bakogiannis of Jumbunna, picked up three golds and a silver at the Australian International Olive Awards and were especially pleased to collect the top citrus/olive oil award for their 2017 Mandarin Agrumato.
In fact, they make four citrus olive oils by the agrumato method; the mandarin (best in class), lemon (gold award), lime (gold award) and blood orange (silver); all of them rated highly at Australia’s most prestigious olive oil event.
“We’ve been making the lemon, lime and mandarin varieties for quite a few years now so we’ve got our quantities right (fruit:olives ratio) but the blood orange this year was our first try and while we’re delighted to get silver first time out, I think we can probably get it even better next time.”
The agrumato method sees the whole mandarin or lemon etc mixed in with the olives to make the oil, whereas the infused style means the flavours are added later; including truffle, garlic, chilli, rosemary, basil and lemon grass; in the case of Olive Twist.
“We’re doing 11 varieties now,” said Julianne, and all that from 550 trees at their Jumbunna property.
“We’ve just got the one olive grove but in recent years we have ended up harvesting others as well. There’s not a lot of money in it really and people who have planted sometimes say they can’t harvest them this year and we’ll do it.
“We get the mandarins, lemons and limes locally but the blood oranges come from Mildura,” from where George originally hails.
Olive Twist Olive Oils are regularly available at local markets and will be attending Leongatha’s Town Market this Saturday and Inverloch’s on Sunday. They also have a website at: http://olivetwist.com.au/index.html
Chris and Andrea McCallum’s Devon Siding olive grove, located at Devon North near Yarram, were also successful at the Australian olive oil awards.
After two disappointing years as a result of prolonged drought in 2008, and then the bushfires of 2009, the grove has produced bumper crops with an excellent oil yield.
Devon Siding has over 600 olive trees, primarily Corregiola, Frantoio and Hardy’s Mammoth. However there are smaller numbers of Jumbo Kalamata, Manzanillo and Koroneiki.
The olives are hand-picked before being transported to Andrew and Lyn Jamieson’s property, Golden Creek Olives, just out of Fish Creek.
Here they are pressed and the oil is poured into stainless steel containers. Once back at Devon Siding, Chris and Andrea allow the oil to settle before filtering, bottling, capping and labelling it.
Harvest occurs in May/June with award-winning results.
Their produce can be ordered from their online store at http://www.devonsidingolives.com.au/ and is also available at retail outlets around the local district.