Green and gold

Tasmanian Country - - FRONT PAGE - KAROLIN MACGRE­GOR

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.”

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