On first sight it was the impressive Cape Dutch style main house and the accompanying cottages of the hospitality business that attracted us to the property. It then became obvious that the entire estate had been maintained and cared for with an extraordinary passion by the previous owners. The stunning Langeberg mountain scenery, the far flung vistas of the Klein Karoo, the peace, privacy and tranquillity – all combined to make it a ‘no brainer’ that this would be perfect for our first investment into the Western Cape.
Oh, and there is also a grove of 1000 olive trees – an added advantage – their grey/green foliage blowing in the winds looking like an ocean – very decorative. We all know about olives trees – they can last for centuries, need no attention, produce fruit every year and make the beautiful and healthy Extra Virgin Olive Oil – what could be better?
We know a little better now – in fact the olives look as though they are going to define our year – with the pruning, irrigating, pest and disease controlling, picking, sorting, processing, pressing, packaging and marketing it certainly is full on. At the moment we are about half way through our picking season with our Frantoio trees (small black olives for oil) mostly harvested, our Mission trees ( larger egg-shaped, pointy black olives for processing and oil) about half way and our Manzanilla trees (apple shaped green olives for processing and when black for oil) now ripening and ready for pressing.
The olive press, new to us this season, has been working overtime as we try to press the day’s harvest – as the best Extra Virgin Olive Oil needs to be pressed as soon as possible after the olives have been picked. A test of our Frantoio single cultivar oil shows an acidity of 0.19 which is excellent and shows that we are on track to produce both single cultivar and blended Extra Virgin Olive Oils of exceptional quality.
But there is still a way to go before we have selected the bottles, jars, tins, labels etc. Then of course our processed olives take up to eight months to ferment so it will be a while before the Galenia olives and Galenia Olive Oil is ready for sale. Hopefully by the time we reopen on 1st September we will be ready with the boutique selection of oils to be followed by the green and black processed table olives and tapenades.
Karin is already experimenting with the new season’s oils – amazingly each cultivar has its own particular taste – some perfect for dressing salads, others to drizzle over hot vegetables and – believe it or not some even suitable for ice cream. Diners at Galenia are going to be under no illusions that they are staying on an olive estate – maybe even a glug of healthy extra virgin olive oil in their breakfast smoothy!