In Victoria, Taralinga Estate Celebrates Tradition While Embracing Innovation

Salvatore Tarascio started growing olives in Australia in 2015, 85 years after his grandfather first cultivated them in Sicily. Now he is one of the country’s top producers.

Dec. 7, 2021
By Wasim Shahzad

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Located on the Mornington Peninsula in the south­ern Australian state of Victoria is the Taralinga Estate.

Home to 2,350 olive trees, Taralinga Estate is the pri­vate olive grove of the Italian-born real estate bil­lion­aire Salvatore (Sam) Tarascio.

Olive oil runs through the Tarascio family’s veins, and Taralinga Estate embod­ies the pas­sion for excel­lence my fam­ily has had for more than a cen­tury since pro­duc­ing pre­mium olive oil back in our home­town of Vizzini, Sicily.- Salvatore Tarascio, owner, Taralinga Estate

Over the years, Tarascio has applied his pas­sion to pro­duce some of the high­est-qual­ity extra vir­gin olive oil in the world.

He estab­lished the busi­ness in 2015 to honor his Italian fam­ily, who pro­duced olive oil in Sicily.

See Also:Producer Profiles

Olive oil runs through the Tarascio family’s veins, and Taralinga Estate embod­ies the pas­sion for excel­lence my fam­ily has had for more than a cen­tury since pro­duc­ing pre­mium olive oil back in our home­town of Vizzini, Sicily,” Tarascio told Olive Oil Times.

He chose the Mornington Peninsula, located south of Melbourne, due to its ideal micro­cli­mate for olive trees.


The Mornington Peninsula fea­tures rich vol­canic soils, mak­ing it ideal for grow­ing all kinds of qual­ity food and wine,” he said.

The penin­sula is also known for its cool win­ters and dry sum­mers, mak­ing it even more suit­able for grow­ing olive trees.

Along with the ideal cli­mate, Karen Godfrey, the company’s mar­ket­ing man­ager, told Olive Oil Times that main­tain­ing the olive trees is a year-long process and has helped drive the company’s suc­cess.

Taralinga Estate offers a unique com­bi­na­tion of pre­mium qual­ity olive trees that thrive in the idyl­lic cli­mate of the Mornington Peninsula and are excep­tion­ally main­tained all year round,” Godfrey said.


Mornington Peninsula coastline

Our typ­i­cal main­te­nance includes fer­til­izer, water and prun­ing to main­tain the shape and health of the tree,” she added. We also con­stantly mon­i­tor the soil to ensure that noth­ing is com­pro­mised when it comes to their qual­ity stan­dards.”

This hard work and care­ful atten­tion to detail cul­mi­nated in two Gold Awards and a Silver Award at the 2021 NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition for a mono­va­ri­etal and two blends.

Taralinga Estate also earned two Gold Awards at the pre­vi­ous edi­tion of the com­pe­ti­tion for the same mono­va­ri­etal and one of the blends.

Despite olive farm­ing roots that date back to 1930 when Tarascio’s grand­fa­ther first pressed olives back in Sicily, Taralinga Estate boasts a diverse and global array of olive vari­eties. The company’s mono­va­ri­etal is made from Picual olives, while its blends include Koroneiki, Frantoio and Hojiblanca olives.

The har­vest­ing process at Taralinga Estate typ­i­cally begins in May. According to Godfrey, this ensures that the olives have the high­est level of polyphe­nols, which are potent antiox­i­dants respon­si­ble for some of the oil’s health ben­e­fits.

The next step is to crush the olives, which takes place imme­di­ately after har­vest­ing at the company’s mill to con­serve their fresh­ness.

Godfrey said Taralinga Estate never com­pro­mises on the qual­ity of its oil, which is why they invested in state-of-the-art milling equip­ment from Italy.


Salvatore Tarascio

The Italian-made tech­nol­ogy allows Taralinga Estate to process olives for up to four dif­fer­ent clients at one time with a con­tin­u­ous process sys­tem,” she said.

Godfrey added that the com­pany was doing much bet­ter after the adver­sity cre­ated by the Covid-19 pan­demic. However, she said that man­ag­ing expenses have become a new chal­lenge for Taralinga due to high equip­ment and labor costs.

See Also:After Years of Drought and Covid, Australians Celebrate Record-Breaking Harvest

Nonetheless, Taralinga Estate has for­mu­lated dif­fer­ent strate­gies to man­age their cost, such as invest­ing in har­vesters.

When Covid hit in 2020, we had to min­i­mize the num­ber of staff at the grove and so out­sourced our pick­ing using a machine har­vester,” Godfrey said. After expe­ri­enc­ing the effi­ciency of this, we decided to invest in our own har­vester, which was used for the first time in 2021.”

She added that 2021 has brought a ray of hope for the busi­ness. The coun­try is steadily rolling back the strict mea­sures imposed to curb the pan­demic, and Godfrey looks for­ward to another pros­per­ous year in 2022.

Our 2021 har­vest results are back to where they were pre-Covid, which is great,” she said. Our 2021 har­vest was almost dou­ble our 2020 har­vest, which we’re thrilled about.”

Despite ris­ing pro­duc­tion, Godfrey added that the com­pany would never put qual­ity in jeop­ardy.

As demand is grow­ing for Taralinga Estate extra vir­gin olive oil, we may need to look beyond our own grove for fruit,” she said. The fruit we use will always be from the Mornington Peninsula as the prove­nance is impor­tant for our brand equity and the qual­ity of our extra vir­gin olive oil.”

Godfrey con­cluded that the com­pany intended to prove its qual­ity once again, announc­ing that they would enter their extra vir­gin olive oils into the 2022 NYIOOC.


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