By Penelope Barker
Olive Oil Times Contributor | Reporting from Sydney
Kapiti Olives’ owners David and Helen Walshaw (David is pictured at right), and Graeme and Chris Harris are the 2010 winners of the Olives New Zealand Extra Virgin Olive Oil Competition, taking out Best in Show with their medium blend of Frantoio, Leccino, Picual and Koroneiki varieties.
The judging panel’s tasting notes stated: “A lovely oil with hints of green tea and figs with underlying spearmint. The palate has floral notes.”
Situated at Te Horo on the West Coast of the North Island, David and Graeme believe that the region is ideal for producing exceptional oil due to its long frost-
free seasons and great climate.
David and Helen’s grove of 2050 trees and Graeme and Chris’ grove of 900 trees contain the four varieties used in their winning oil. David and Graeme maintain their own groves, while Helen handles the post harvesting and marketing of the oil, backed up by Graeme’s expert skills in branding and promotion.
The groves require little chemical input, with only foliar application of a seaweed-based spray and boron to correct a soil deficiency. Regular soil testing monitors soil nutrient status.
“The olives are harvested using Pellenc mechanical hand-held harvesters and a tractor-mounted collector and are then pressed under contract by The Olive Press in Masterton as single varietals and stored in stainless steel containers under argon gas,” says Graeme. “Once all the varieties are pressed and the oils are left to settle for four to six weeks a tasting review of each oil is conducted.
“The aroma, flavour, complexity and persistence is noted to decide whether any one varietal has all these qualities or if a blend would better achieve a balance and harmony between fruitiness, pungency and aftertaste. Kapiti’s aim each season is to produce at least two styles of oil. “
With an annual production of approximately 4000 litres, Kapiti Olives is not a big producer. However, this output is expected to double within the next five years as Kapiti’s two groves, planted in 2000, reach maturity.
“Rather than be a high volume producer, Kapiti Olives aims to produce the very best hand-crafted extra virgin olive oil,” asserts Graeme.
Since 2005, Kapiti Olives has won four gold medals in the Olives New Zealand awards and a gold medal at the Olive Oils of the World competition in Los Angeles. “This year has been the pinnacle year for us,” says Graeme. “Winning awards is important to Kapiti Olives. It confirms that our olive oil is consistently world class and gives reassurance to our customers that they are getting a truly premium product.”