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Regional Flavours of Olive Oil Recognised

Regional Flavours of Olive Oil Recognised

Extra virgin olive oils from different parts of New Zealand have developed their own regional flavours, making them as distinctive as regional wines, says leading Hawke's Bay olive oil producer The Village Press.

The Village Press now produces two separate extra virgin olive oils, one from the Hawke's Bay and one from Marlborough, and identifies them as such on its now-familiar black and white labels.

"The same olive varieties are used yet olive oil gourmets can tell the difference between the two products," The Village Press CEO Wayne Startup says.

"They are both delicious olive oils and which you prefer is a matter of personal taste, just like wine buffs distinguish between a Hawke's Bay and a Marlborough sauvignon blanc."

Olive varieties used from both regions are Barnea, Picual, Frantoio and Manzanillo.

The Village Press has expanded its ability to produce extra virgin olive oil more than a thousand fold since its first pressing in 2002.

The recent installation of its new state-of-the-art Italian press at Sileni Estates winery near Hastings has resulted in the company pressing 45,000 litres of extra virgin olive oil this harvest season, compared to 3500 litres in its first year of operation in 2002.

Mr Startup predicts that rate will increase to where The Village Press is producing 250,000 litres a season within five years.

The Village Press first began using Marlborough olives last year following spring 2002 frost damage that reduced the harvest from its Hawke’s Bay olive groves. Thirty percent of its production now comes from Marlborough.

Mr Startup says the capacity of the new press is such that The Village Press is also pressing under contract for other grower labels from Wairarapa, Gisborne and Hawke’s Bay.

“We can press one and a half tones of fruit per hour compared to 220 kilograms in our old traditional press. Our new filling and capping machinery also streamlines the process.”

The Village Press will export 50 percent of its production this year and has now become established in the prestigious British gourmet food outlets of Sainsbury’s, Liberty and Fortnum and Mason.

“Another market that is evolving rapidly for us is the United States, in particular California and the Eastern Seaboard,” Mr Startup says.”

“The American market is showing an increased level of interest in New Zealand products following this country’s successful wine exports there and the popularity of the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy.”

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