The 2013 extra virgin olive oil was harvested from our 4 small groves on the farm comprising of a total of approximately 2000 trees. The Italian oil varieties Frantoio, Leccino and Coratina yielded very well this year, while the Mission table olives are still finding their feet but nevertheless produced enough for our culinary needs.
Our twelve-year-old olive groves are relatively young and over the last 3 years the olives have doubled their crop year after year. Due to the long, dry and hot summer this year, we started picking a week early on the 11th of April. Hand picking is very labour intensive and at first light we had 50 staff in the various groves picking only the most optimally ripe olives.
As the olives ripened on the trees, they were harvested until the 12th June with a total of 9 different stage pickings. Unfortunately we had an early season cold snap on the 2nd of June which brought with it a severe hail storm (and the earliest recorded snow on our Villiersdorp farm, Altima). As a result some fruit were cut and bruised. These damaged fruit were not used and discarded.
Immediately after harvesting we lovingly start preparing the next harvest.
As the crates of fresh olives came out of the grove, they are taken directly to the olive press where the whole olives are washed, milled, malaxed and then centrifugally spun before the oil is extracted.
Once all the oil is finished being extracted (not pressed), it is racked or settled for two weeks. Thereafter it is gently filtered to remove any sediment and then bottled. No other processing or heating is done. No additives are added – we use pure, virgin olive oil only.
Once bottled, the oil is sent to an independent laboratory where it is tested for peroxide and free fatty acid values. This is one of the steps that determines if the oil is extra-virgin or not. Thereafter an internationally accredited tasting panel does an organoliptic tasting which involves testing the smell, taste and mouth feel of the oil for its final extra virgin olive oil stamp of approval.
We hope to win our third Gold Award at this year’s SA Olive Awards.