Accidental Artisan Producers and Surprise Award Winners.
It all started in 2013 when...
we purchased our delightfully located property in Deans Marsh - it came with an olicve grovet. With no background or experience in olives, we just assumed things would look after themselves.
It soon became apparent that olive trees need pruning, and they get diseases, such as black scale. So started the learning exercise, and so did the work. Who thought the trees would look after themselves? Hmm.
Aggressive pruning, selective pest and disease management, and an organic diet of fish and seaweed emulsion, gave the olive trees a big boost. In early 2014, our first harvest came around, so we dutifully picked the olives (by hand) and drove them away for off-site pressing. Although our harvest was small, the quality was very satisfying. Maybe we were onto something?
In 2015, the trees were more productive, and we timed our harvest carefully. Again, we sent our olives away for processing, only to get a call saying "your oil is so good that you should enter it into a competition". We hadn't though of that, so we did. At the RASV Fine Food Awards we won two gold and two silver medals, and our Picual won Champion Boutique Oil.
Was it just beginners luck?
After an incredibly dry summer and autumn, our prospects for 2016 looked grim. The trees were unhappy - we have no water for irrigation. The trees had to manage alone, so they reacted with disappointing productivity.
Then we discovered that our processor wasn't going to process olives this year. Just another challenge? Sure was, so we bought their olive press and moved to our next challenge.
So, we upgraded the power supply, installed the press, and we timed our harvest carefully. We hand-picked each single variety individually, and cold pressed, with our new toy, with the aim to ensure maximum flavour, freshness, and character. All with a lot of help from our amazing friends and family. They really put the shoulder to the wheel, and without them we would have no oil to speak of - THANKS!!
Something must have worked, because.......
At the 2016 Royal Agricultural Society Victoria Australian Food Awards (AFA) we were very pleased to win a total of seven medals, including 4 gold and two silver medals, with our our Picual Extra Virgin Olive Oil taking the Trophy for Best EVOO of Show.
This was shortly followed by the 2016 National EVOO Competition, with a two gold and 4 silver medals, and trophy for 2016 Reserve Champion Australian oil.
All that free labour made a difference!
Maluka Estate Extra Virgin Olive Oil exhibits intense aroma, flavour, and persistence, reflecting the cool temperate climate of The Otway Ranges. A region that is producing amazing food and wines. We are very proud to be part of this incredibly vibrant region.
As they say, the rest is history.
In 2015 we planted our little vineyard of 500 Chardonnay and 500 Pinot Noir vines. They are now producing lucious fruit and our wines are on the way. We have a 2018 Pinot Noir Chardonnay sparkling sitting on lees, and our first vintages of pinot noir and chardonnay wines are currently fermenting.
Stay tuned for the next exciting episode!