Rio Largo Olive Oil

SA’s 2011 olive oil stars

South Africa’s reputation as a producer of premium olive oils has been glossed up yet again at the 2011 olive oil awards just staged by SA Olive. At the annual award ceremony in Paarl, six extra virgin olive oils from the 2011 vintage were heralded as SA’s top achievers. Double gold was raked up by Rio Largo’s Extra Virgin Olive Oil Cold Extracted, as well as its Rio Largo Mild – both in the category for medium olive oils.  Other double gold winners include River Bend (medium), Adamskloof (intense), Bakenshoogte (intense) and Kleinood’s De Boerin (intense).

This year’s competition drew 58% more entries than previous years and a total of 16 gold, 11 silver and 12 bronze medals were awarded in addition to the six double gold medals.

The category for intense olive oils had the most (7) gold winners: Buck’s Ridge Olive Estate’s Buck’s Ridge Intense, Gabrielskloof, Kloovenburg Extra Virgin Cold Extracted from Kloovenburg Olives, Marbrin Olive Farm, Morgenster Olive Estate, Rio Largo’s Rio Largo Freedom of the Press and the Willow Creek Director’s Reserve from Willow Creek Products.

Six gold medals were awarded in the category for medium olive oils, namely Green & Gold Premium (Diepsak Farm), Groote Vallei, L’Ormarins Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Andante Medium Blend (Porterville Olives), Waterfall River Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil Cold Extracted (Richard Atkinson) and Tarentaalkloof’s Tarentaalkloof Extra Virgin Oil.

In the category for delicate olive oils, Monte Marcello (Morgenster Estate), Andante Delicate Blend (Porterville Olives) and Saint Sebastian Bay Extra Virgin Olive Oil (The Greenleaf Olive Company) glittered with gold.

An internationally renowned olive oil expert for the first time joined the qualified team of South African judges. Professor Luciano Scarselli, president of the Italian tasters association (AS.C.O.E) for olive oil, believes that the majority of SA olive oils currently on the market, can compete with the best of the world. According to Scarselli the local industry shows tremendous growth in terms of quality, knowledge and the use of modern technology.

Entries were tasted blind and medals were awarded on a consensus basis according to a predetermined point system – a model also successfully used by the wine industry. “The consumer can rest assured that any olive oil that is honoured with a medal – be it double gold or bronze – is truly of exceptional quality,” says Leonard Arangies, SA Olive manager.

Olive Achiever of the Year

Andries Rabie of Willow Creek

Andries Rabie, 2011 ABSA Olive Achiever of the Year, and Wendy Engel, ABSA/sponsor.

Andries Rabie is 2011’s ABSA Olive Achiever of the Year. Rabie’s illustrious career in the olive industry stretches over 12 years since he planted olive trees on their farm, Willow Creek, in the Breede River Valley. Currently they produce olive oil from 280 hectare orchards planted with 173 000 trees. Rabie also established their own olive nursery and has to date imported six new cultivars, mainly from Israel.

During his six years as chairperson of SA Olive, Rabie was, amongst other initiatives, responsible for the establishment of the SA Olive Awards.

Since 2002 Rabie won some 29 noteworthy awards for Willow Creek olive oil at local and international level, including the L’Orciolod’Oro trophy for the overall winner in the Intense category in 2009. Also where black economy empowerment is concerned, Rabie responded by selling 200ha to the Willow Creek employees in 2009. He has also been honoured for his excellent success as part of the olive mentorship programme.

This trophy is annually awarded to a person who has significantly contributed to the development of the industry, and who is involved in any of the olive sectors, including olive oil producers, nurseries, table olive producers or processors.

For more information on the competition and its results, contact SA Olive at tel (021) 870-2900, email [email protected] or visit