It’s always a nice feeling when winter is approaching, and the cold winds blow – and they really blow here in the Western Cape – to know that our crop of olives is all harvested and pressed and stored away in the stainless-steel vats protected from light and air. Samples of our Extra Virgin Olive oils have been sent to the laboratory in Wellington and we await the results of the tests. There are two particular tests that will rate the quality of this season’s crop – the Peroxide value determines the oxidation of the oil and the % Free Fatty Acid values indicates the acidity levels and hence the quality of the oil. We are hopeful that both will be well within the permitted limits for Extra Virgin status. Having the ability to pick our olives and press them on the estate within 24 hours should ensure ‘super’ quality, but it is nice to have this confirmed in the laboratory.
But the olive year never ends, now is the time for pruning to reduce the amount of new growth and water shoots that clog up the centre of the trees. It is essential for a good crop to make sure that the centre of the tree is open to light and air – it is said that a well pruned olive tree should allow birds to fly through it. As olives fruit on old wood it is important not to take off too much, as we discovered when we reduced the height of the trees a couple of years ago. Once the pruning is finished the olive trees can sleep through the winter whilst we filter, bottle and label this years harvest ready for our first guests when we reopen on 14th August.