Green and gold
TASMANIAN olive oil producers Carol and Tony O’Neil have won a number of award over the years but their latest success at the Australian International Olive Awards came as a surprise.
An oil from their Cradle Coast Olive grove at Abbotsham in the North-West beat entries from across the globe to take out the best extra-virgin oil of the show award.
Their oils also won the best Tasmanian extra-virgin oil, the champion mild extra-virgin oil, champion medium extra-virgin oil, best Australian extravirgin oil and best Southern Hemisphere extra-virgin oil before taking the overall gong.
“It’s crazy but its all good,” Mrs O’Neil said.
“On the night they’d announce the winner of each category we had to keep going up. We couldn’t believe it when we won the international award, that’s something we’ve never done before.”
The winning oil was from Verdal trees, which Mrs O’Neil said was their main variety.
“We’re lucky because we had an over-abundance of that this year, the trees were absolutely laden with fruit,” she said.
She said the winning oil did not have the usual strong peppery flavour normally associated with Tasmanian olive oils.
“This one actually has a very mild flavour, but it’s beautifully balanced and it has a wonderful smooth finish.”
The O’ Neils previously won three best Australian extra-virgin oil awards at the Australian National Olive Competition, which changed to an international competition last year.
“We are very passionate about what we do and we work hard for a couple of old people,” she said.
As well as picking and pressing their own olives, the couple also press fruit for about 60 other growers.
Mrs O’Neil said they had been inundated with orders for the winning oil.
“We always tell the other growers to enter their oils in the shows because it’s a really good way to promote your oil.
“We’re producing a premium product so we get a premium price and we make no excuses about that. We never have problems selling our oil and in fact run out every year.”