First Guide to Extra Virgin Olive Oil in South Africa launched!


Olive Oil Guide Whale Cottage PortfolioAn unique ‘The Guide to Extra Virgin Olive Oil in South Africa‘ has been published, the first of its kind, providing an overview of olive oil production in our country, and providing details of the top quality olive oil producers.

Olives were first brought to South Africa from California by Piet Cillie in 1893.    A mere 14 years later Jan Minnaar from De Hoop farm in Paarl won  the prize for the best olive oil produced in the British Empire at the 1907 London Show!   Reni Hildenbrand now owns the farm in Wellington on which Piet Cillie farmed, and she has written a book ‘Olives and Olive Oils in South Africa‘.  Ferdinando Costa arrived from Genoa in Italy a few years later, and brought in Italian plants, grafting them on the local Olienhout rootstock.  He planted large numbers of olive trees in Paarl in 1925, and pressed his first olive oil in 1935.   The Costa name is synonymous with olives and olive oil, and his relative Linda runs SA Olive, a quality standards body for the industry.   Italian Baron Andreis began planting olive trees in the ‘Fifties, using Carlo Castiglione to make olive oil from 1972, under the Vesuvio brand.  Its Extra Virgin Olive Oil won four awards in Italy for the first time, and regularly wins international awards.  Italian Guilio Bertrand bought Morgenster next door to Vergelegen just over twenty years ago, and saw the potential to produce quality wines and olive oils.  He now runs an olive oil nursery, and won the SA Olive Lifetime Achievement Award last year.

The quality of olive oil quality is influenced by the terroir, cultivar, climate, and the oil maker, similar to wines.  The biggest threat to good quality local Extra Virgin Olive Oils is inferior olive oils which are  imported, and bought by consumers in the belief that the imported products should be of a better quality. Extra Virgin Olive Oil is extracted from the olives at a temperature below 30° C, without adding anything to the oil.  It is tested for oleic acidity of 0.8% or lower, and peroxides at less than 20mEq/kg.  One should keep a bottle for 18 months, whereafter the anti-oxidants and vitamins decrease, reducing its health benefits.  Olive oil buyers are encouraged to check the label for vintage, for using the words ‘Extra Virgin Olive Oil‘,  the location of the farm, chemical details, information about cold pressed/extraction and filtered/unfiltered, and cultivar, when choosing a brand of olive oil.

The SA Olive Top 5 Extra Virgin Olive Oils this year are De Rustica Private Press Intense Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Gabriëlskloof Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Porterville Olives Andante Intenso and Andante Forte Intensely Fruity, and Rio Largo Premium Blend.

‘The Guide to Extra Virgin Olive Oil in South Africa’ lists 48 olive oil producers, and details about their location, contact details, tasting opportunity, retail outlets at which they can be bought, tasting notes, number of olive trees, production quantity, soil types in which olive trees are grown, olive cultivars, and awards won locally and internationally.  The olive oil producers covered in the booklet are Adamskloof, Andante, Anysbos, Ayama Olio, Bakenshoogte, Bo-tuin, Buck’s Ridge, Chaloner, De Rustica, Francolin Farm, Gabriëlskloof, Goedgedacht, Groote Vallei Olive Estate, Hemelrand, Het Vlock Casteel, Hidden Valley, Hildenbrand, Hillcrest Estate, Honingklip, Karoo Virgin, Kleinood De Boerin, Lettas Kraal, Le Verger, L’Ormarins, Marbrin Farm, Mardouw, Morgenster, Morning View, Mount Ceder, Nuwerus, Olijvenhof, Olyfberg, Olives Go Wild, Olyvenbosch, Oudewerfskloof, Portion 36 Olive Orchard, Prince Albert Olives, Rio Largo Olive Estate, Riverbend Farm, Slaley, The Drift Farm, The Greenleaf Company, Tokara, Vesuvio, Waterleliefontain, Wildekrans, Willow Creek, and Windfall.

‘The Guide to Extra Virgin Olive Oil in South Africa‘, Overberg Promotions & Publishing.   Cell 082 564 6256.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio:  Twitter: @WhaleCottage

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