`New Norcia Wins Best of Show at Perth Royal - Olive Oil Times

New Norcia Wins Best of Show at Perth Royal

Oct. 24, 2010
Penelope Barker

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By Penelope Barker | Reporting from Sydney

An his­toric olive grove tended by Benedictine monks for over 150 years and an olive grove less than a decade old have pro­duced Australia’s most awarded extra vir­gin olive oils for 2010.

The monks of the Benedictine Community of New Norcia, Australia’s only mis­sion town, have been grow­ing olives and pro­duc­ing qual­ity olive oil for over 150 years. Due to their vow of humil­ity, how­ever, the monks have eschewed enter­ing awards and hav­ing the qual­ity of their olive oil recog­nised – until this year. New Norcia olive oils received Best West Australian Oil of Show and Best Oil of Show at the Perth Royal Show Extra Virgin Olive Oil Competition in August, receiv­ing an over­all score of 19 out 20, fol­lowed by Best Oil from Heritage Trees and a Bronze Medal at the Golden Olive Awards held by the Victorian Olive Council in north-east Victoria in September.

Dom Paulino

New Norcia was set­tled by Spanish Benedictine monks in the 1840s who built grand Spanish colo­nial build­ings and planted olive groves in the harsh West Australian bush. In January this year, New Norcia’s last Spanish monk and longest liv­ing monk, Dom Paulino, passed away at the age of 99 and the Community decided it would be per­mis­si­ble to enter sev­eral olive oil awards in his honour.

Dom Paulino tended the olive grove at New Norcia all his life,” says Carmel Ross, chief exec­u­tive offi­cer of the Benedictine Community of New Norcia. He was the mas­ter of the olive grove and passed his knowl­edge on to our Head of Grounds, Gordon Smyth. In the last two years of his life, Dom Paulino was in a nurs­ing home in Perth, but always asked vis­i­tors about the olive grove and how the trees were being tended. So it’s won­der­ful that in the year of his death we have won these awards as a recog­ni­tion of the her­itage of the Spanish monks and their con­tri­bu­tion to the olive oil indus­try in Australia. Many other grow­ers who entered the com­pe­ti­tions listed WA Mission’ among their olive vari­eties, which means they orig­i­nated from the New Norcia grove, either as cut­tings or seeds.

Another thing that pleases us is that the awards are a pat on the back for the large num­bers of vol­un­teers who come to help with the har­vest and prun­ing the trees each year. Every part of the process of pro­duc­ing New Norcia olive oil is hand done or using the orig­i­nal machin­ery and is very labour inten­sive. We wouldn’t have the result we have with­out the vol­un­teers as we sim­ply couldn’t afford the labour.”

Judges at the Perth Royal Show described the win­ning oil as hav­ing an aroma of grapes, trop­i­cal fruit salad, nec­tar and pas­sion­fruit, with good strong fla­vors of
guava and trop­i­cal fruits and firm bit­ter­ness and pun­gency with a clean finish.”

New Norcia CEO Carmel Ross

There were 161 entries over­all across five cat­e­gories, mostly based on the size of the producer’s olive grove. New Norcia entered into cat­e­gory two, for groves that pro­duce 200‑4999 litres annu­ally, with 86 other entries.

New Norcia’s olive grove is 150 to 160 years old and olive oil is an impor­tant part of New Norcia’s his­tory,” says Head of Grounds, Gordon Smyth. More than 600 trees are har­vested annu­ally and some of the orig­i­nal machin­ery is still used to sort and process the olives. It’s a big job but we love what we do and hope to carry on this legacy well into the future.”

If you wish to sam­ple New Norcia’s prize-win­ning olive oil, you will have to travel to Western Australia. The oil is only avail­able from the Museum and Art Gallery Gift Shop in New Norcia, where you can also pur­chase the Benedictine Community’s wood-fired bread, beer and nut cake.

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Gooramada Takes AOA National

Jos and Kathy Weemaes

In con­trast to New Norcia’s long and fas­ci­nat­ing his­tory of olive oil pro­duc­tion, the win­ners of Best Oil of Show at the Australian Olive Association’s 14th National Extra Virgin Olive Oil Awards – Gooramadda Olives – are mere babes in the woods.

Jos and Kathy Weemaes planted their grove of close to 900 olive trees in 1998 and went into full-time pro­duc­tion in 2001. Over the short nine years since then, Gooramadda Olives has gar­nered a string of awards, includ­ing win­ning Best Oil in Show eight times at the Golden Olive Awards and gain­ing a Gold Medal at this year’s awards, win­ning Best Oil in Show in the National Olive Oil Awards pre­vi­ously in 2006 and tak­ing home numer­ous gold and sil­ver medals over the past five years.

Winning this highly regarded National Award twice gives us, and our cus­tomers, the con­fir­ma­tion that we pro­duce a con­sis­tent, qual­ity prod­uct,” says Jos Weemaes. We also greatly appre­ci­ate the very pro­fes­sional man­ner in which the
judg­ing is car­ried out. Judges’ com­ments and feed­back give us an insight into how we can con­tin­u­ously improve and fine-tune our processes. It is like sit­ting a yearly exam and passing!”

Jos and Kathy Weemaes left their jobs as an engi­neer and draftsper­son respec­tively in search of greater work and lifestyle bal­ance and planted their grove on 20 acres at Gooramadda in North East Victoria. All pro­cess­ing is done on the prop­erty using only their own olives, which come in a broad range of vari­eties includ­ing kala­mata, king kala­mata, California queens, man­zanillo and Hardy’s mammoth.

The cou­ple hold reg­u­lar fac­tory tours and olive oil tast­ings at Gooramadda and also retail table olives, their own tape­nade and hand made olive oil soaps and skin creams from their cel­lar door.

Thirteen gold medals were awarded from over 200 entries at the National Olive Oil Awards Show,
which were scru­ti­nised in an intense two-day judg­ing process by 26 olive oil experts.

Chief Judge of the 14th National Olive Oil Awards Show, Richard Gawel com­pli­mented the grow­ers on the over­all high stan­dard of entries. This was prob­a­bly the most dif­fi­cult grow­ing sea­son that I can recall,” he said in his speech announc­ing the win­ners at the Awards din­ner in Adelaide on October 15. Scorching heat fol­lowed by rain just prior to har­vest made it dif­fi­cult for many grow­ers to har­vest when they would have liked. Given these dif­fi­cul­ties, the best oils showed an out­stand­ing level of olive fruit and fresh­ness. Just lovely dynamic oils.”

Other major win­ners were Macaw Creek Olive Oil, Coralee Olives, Forth Valley Olive Grove, Cobram Estate, Melilanda Olives and Preston Valley Grove.

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