Villa Grove Estate is an olive grove situated 2kms south of Wakefield on the Wakefield-Kohatu highway where five hundred olive trees have their roots firmly established in mineral rich Wai-iti River loam.
Owners, Rachel and Phil Costello, have owned their property since 1978 and began planting olive trees in 1995 with varieties from Israel, Spain, Italy and Greece.
The local growing conditions of hot dry summers coupled with extremely cold winters have been quite a challenge with the Tuscan and Greek varieties proving to be the best performers. The Greek cultivar Koroneiki, and Tuscan cultivars, Frantoio and Leccino encapsulate distinctive flavours and with each growing season the characteristics and flavours of the oil can vary.
On tasting the oils pressed each year from these three varieties Rachel realised the need to hone her tasting skills to achieve a consistency of flavours and style in their bottled olive oil .Blending the three oils can enable the finished product to be more balanced and harmonious on the palate.
In 2002 and 2003, Rachel attended international olive oil tasting programmes in Australia where she learnt about the flavour characteristics of different varieties of olive oils and also how to go about blending to create a consistent product. Organoleptic or sensory assessment is how one interprets or recognises an aroma taken up through our olfactory cell stimuli in the nose and enables us to recognise different flavours through our taste buds on the tongue. There are four components to olive oil which gives it complexity in taste. These are freshness, fruitiness, bitterness and pepperiness. The tasting process is intensive which ensures that there are no faults in the oil that can be caused by poor quality fruit or poor handling of the oil during processing, bottling or storage.
The determination that an oil has no faults is by chemical analysis and a sample tasted by a trained tasting (Organoleptic) panel. This ensures a quality product. This is overseen by the industry governing body, OlivesNZ. To be of Extra Virgin status the olive oil is within certain chemical parameters, has no taste faults and is the premium grade.
Rachel is one of six NZ olive oil judges and has been on judging panels throughout NZ over the past 10 years.
For Villa Grove, harvesting begins in late May with the olives shaken off the branches into mats spread under the trees and then put into crates. Each variety is picked separately and processed at a local olive press, stored separately in tanks until tasted and assessed. The blend is then bottled into two sizes, 250mls and 500mls. Two infused oils are also produced with the addition of Lime and Lemon pure citrus oils added to their Leccino olive oil and bottled into 250mls.
To contact us email or phone (03) 5418577 or visit our onsite shop for gate sales. If our OPEN signs are at the gate, please drive on in !
Villa Grove Estate is a member of Olives New Zealand (ONZ).