South African Produce

Gold rush: A taste of Swartland olive oil

Looking for some of SA’s finest olive oil? Check out these three producers in the Western Cape's Swartland area.

11 December 2019 - 19:02 By Georgia East
Olives are a relatively new crop in the Western Cape's Swartland area.
Olives are a relatively new crop in the Western Cape's Swartland area.
Image: Nazar Hrabovyi/Unsplash

Take a meander along the N7, pass the grain silos of Malmesbury and you’ll find yourself in the middle of the Swartland. Aptly known as the breadbasket of the Western Cape, the area in summertime is a swaying sea of gold, with wheat and late-blooming canola carpeting the landscape.

At the forefront of this movement are three local producers

But head towards the Riebeek Valley and that gold gives way to green, as vineyards, famous for their concentrated reds and complex whites, vie for space with verdant, dusky olive groves.

Though still a lesser-known crop than grapes in this area, Swartland olives and their resulting olive oil are fast becoming known as products of integrity.

At the forefront of this movement are three local producers, Darling Olives, Andante and Olive Boutique. They are taking what was previously considered a secondary crop to wine and turning it into liquid gold.

Darling Olives offers a wide range of olive-derived products in a picturesque setting.
Darling Olives offers a wide range of olive-derived products in a picturesque setting.
Image: Georgia East

DARLING OLIVES

Located at the western edge of the Swartland area, Darling Olives is a family business specialising in single-origin olive oil. Because of the farm’s proximity to the cold Atlantic Ocean, Darling Olives' groves need not be irrigated, with the Mediterranean climate of the Cape West Coast best suited to growing this versatile fruit.

Predominantly making use of the Mission cultivar, Darling Olives uses a triple purpose method that processes the olives at their varying stages of ripeness, ensuring no fruit is wasted.

The intensity of particular oils depends on the olive varieties used to produce them.
The intensity of particular oils depends on the olive varieties used to produce them.
Image: Georgia East

ANDANTE OLIVES

Headed by Willie Duminy, Andante Olives is found near the town of Porterville and its flagship Intenso oil is crafted from the Sicilian Nocellara del Belice variety of olive.

Intensely fruity and aromatic, the Intenso is the ideal oil to partner with decadent dessert or chocolate-based dishes. This unusual pairing was demonstrated by Chef Rory Lambson of My Chefs during a recent Swartland Long Table event at Olive Boutique.

OLIVE BOUTIQUE

The definitive olive experts in Riebeek-Kasteel, owners Derek and Susan van der Riet turned a surplus crop into a lucrative business.

After the first olive press was introduced to the town in 2000, local wine and wheat farmers could bring along the fruit produced by their olive trees and Olive Boutique would press, blend and bottle the resulting oils.

Now stocking their own range of oil, table olives and olive-derived beauty products, Olive Boutique favourites include their popular Tsakistes (Greek-style marinated olives) and the intensely flavoured Coratina extra virgin olive oil.

With their products being used extensively across the Western Cape as well as in homes, restaurants and guest houses in the Riebeek Valley, Olive Boutique has made buying locally produced olives and oil one of the tastiest activities to enjoy when visiting the area.