Galenia Extra Virgin Olive Oil receives International recognition

To say that we were delighted to win two gold and one silver awards in The South African Olive Association 2016 competition is an understatement. As this was our first year of producing our estate pressed oil, we were ‘doing it by the book’ literally, as well as calling in favours from friends and colleagues from near and far to give us their best advice. Well it certainly seemed to pay off.

 

Encouraged by our first year’s success we decided to enter our oil on an international platform by submitting it to the prestigious New York International Olive Oil competition. This is a truly international competition with Extra Virgin olive oils being submitted from most olive oil producing countries around the world. We were quietly confident that our South African produced oil was top quality, but reticent about how it would stand up internationally.

 

You can imagine our response to discover that we had been awarded a silver medal for our Directors Blend. This is particularly gratifying as this was our own blending of two of the three cultivars produced on the estate (Frantoio and Mission) to our own –now secret – formula! As each of the cultivars produces oil of its own particular ‘personality’ and that appears to change each year depending on weather and growing conditions we decided that the Directors Blend would be our selection as to which of the season’s oils complemented each other. Yes there was a fair amount of discussion – less of this, more of that – is it now too pungent? too bitter? – do we need that? In fact a group of amateur olive oil enthusiasts trying to engage their senses of smell and taste to produce a Galenia Estate oil we could all be proud of.

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Well we are certainly proud now!!!

 

 

Table Olives are a mission!!

The Manzanilla olives that we harvested in March are at last ready for eating. We look with envy at our neighbouring fruit farms that harvest their crop and sell it immediately whilst we have to wait for eight months before we can start to sell our produce. Also we have the added complication in that if we don’t get the processing and fermentation process exactly right we end up either with foul tasting olives or olives that are too soft and squashy and that we cannot take to market.

Fortunately the ‘pickling’ process appeals to Walter’s fastidious side and for the last eight months he has religiously checked on his ‘babies’ in the olive store. Armed with his refractometer (to test the salinity of the pickling brine) and his ‘ph’ sticks (to test the acidity/alkalinity) he has nurtured them through their transformation from bitter tasting inedible ‘drupes’ (single stone fleshy fruit) into remarkably tasty processed green table olives. Although there have been times when even he thought that the lactic acid

fermentation process was out of control.

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So now at last we are ready to allow our guests to sample the Manzanillas both in the whole form and as olive paste – we are still trying to find the correct term to describe our olive paste – a ‘blitzed mix of stone-less olives, garlic, lemon and herbs’ – others use the term ‘tapenade’ which should really contain anchovies and capers, or ‘pesto’ which should contain pine nuts and parmesan – but we would like the flavour of our Manzanillas to ‘speak’ for itself. Our brains are being tested but hopefully we will eventually improve upon Manzanilla Mash which appears to be the current favourite.

Our Mission olives that were harvested in April are almost ready, these black olives are still a little bitter but we think that within a few weeks will be ready for the tasting – and ‘mashing’.

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S A Olive Awards – 2016

We are thrilled and delighted to announce that in our first attempt to produce Extra Virgin Olive Oil we have been awarded TWO Golds and a Silver by the South African Olive Association.

Each year the association holds a competition where olive growers can submit their oils for tasting and assessment by a panel of experts and then gold, silver and bronze awards are presented in early September. We had the feeling that our ‘estate pressed’ extra virgin olive oil was of very good quality following the laboratory tests, but as this was our first year of production we dared not dream of winning an award. To end up with THREE leaves us all very pleased indeed!

Our ‘gold award winning’ Estate Blend is a combination of the oils of the three different cultivars grown on the estate – Frantoio, Mission and Manzanilla. The olives from each cultivar are picked and pressed separately which enables us to assess the qualities and flavours of each oil and to blend them together to produce a particular flavour that we think represents Galenia Estate. This season’s Estate Blend is a subtle balance of pungency and bitterness with a soft finish and grassy aroma.

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The ‘gold award winning’ Director’s Blend is a combination of just two of the cultivars – Frantoio and Mission, blended in a proportion which gives a more intense aroma and pungency and a greater depth of flavour.

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The ‘silver award winning’ Frantoio is a single cultivar Extra Virgin Olive Oil unblended and ‘straight from the tree’. The 2016 harvest has produced an oil of good aroma and pungency with low bitterness.

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We are also pleased with our new Galenia logoed labels featuring a map of Africa (in gold, silver and bronze to differentiate each type of oil) in order to emphasise that the oil has been produced in South Africa. Not everyone associates Africa as a continent that grows olives and produces high quality extra virgin olive oil, but we hope that our new Galenia oils will add to the existing brands and create more awareness of the superb quality.

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Olives

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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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!