20 Jun

Olive oil producers scoop three international golds

By Rebekah Burgess,

A WAIRARAPA olive oil producer has become the only one worldwide to gain three gold medals in the main section of an international competition announced on Sunday.

Ruakokoputuna Olives won three golds at the Los Angeles International Extra Virgin Olive Oil Competition, which included a total Wairarapa medal haul of nine from four producers.

Martinborough-based Ruakokoputuna Olives co-owner Mike Wilkinson said to be the only company to receive three golds in the main oil section is a major achievement, especially for a relatively new industry and compared with big producers like Spain.

“We are producing amazing oil with people that have been doing it for centuries. In years to come we are going to have a very successful industry in New Zealand,” he said.

Other medals for oil types included silvers for iLove, Wairarapa Olives and Martinborough Produce Company and a bronze for Molive Gold.

ilove, Wairarapa Olives took out gold medals for best of show for the overall olive oil packaging and design awards and the typography and colour section.

Martinborough Produce Company topped the contemporary section for packaging and design with a gold medal.

Wairarapa boasts the optimum olive-growing climate in New Zealand because of its cool nights and hot days, Mr Wilkinson said.

“You can grow olives in warmer places but (the oil) hasn’t got the intensity of flavour like we have here in Wairarapa.”

Mr Wilkinson and his partner Wendy Fisher bought the Martinborough olive grove seven years ago after a desire to produce something wholesome and good for you.

“There’s a lot of passion involved in growing olives.

“We were just lucky to hit the nail on the head with the right temperature, the right climate and the right soils to produce the olives,” Mr Wilkinson said.

But though the company has achieved international acclaim, the journey is not over for this olive oil production team as they continue to strive for excellence.

“We still think that we are basically only just beginning and we have got a long way to go. We have got a lot to learn,” Mr Wilkinson said.

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