Willow Creek Olive Estate

Our Farm

Our farm is blessed with an abundance of good quality, crystal clear mountain water. This, combined with the fact that the olive trees enjoy meticulous attention from the estate’s dedicated team, ensures consistent quality and even ripening of the olives.

We have

olive trees

Our farm is

hectares

We have trees from

cultivars

Harvest-to-extraction

hours

Locally Produced

hand-harvested

Our rich history

Willow Creek Olive Estate is nestled in the Nuy Valley, which lies at the foot of the majestic Langeberg Mountains. Located just outside of Worcester, the farm was initially used to cultivate a multitude of crops, including wine grapes, table grapes, wheat and vegetables for over two centuries.

However, this all changed in 1997 when a dramatic drop in wine prices lead Willow Creek Olive Estate to diversify its farming operations. After discovering that the lime-rich soils and Mediterranean climate of the Nuy Valley offer an ideal terroir for olive cultivation, the estate set its sights on olive farming. The rest, as they say, is history.

Only ten hectares of olive trees were planted in 1999, but today the farm’s groves consist of 155 000 olive trees from eight cultivars spread out over 193 hectares of land. Not long after planting the first olive trees, Willow Creek Olive Estate produced its first award-winning olive oil in 2002.

We started with only

hectares

Now we have

hectares

Where we are now

The farm is blessed with an abundance of good quality, crystal clear mountain water. This, combined with the fact that the olive trees enjoy meticulous attention from the estate’s dedicated team, ensures consistent quality and even ripening of the olives.

Initially, the farm planted Mission and FS-17 groves and gradually diversified the estate’s cultivar range throughout the years. Today, eight different olive tree cultivars can be spotted at the estate.

The farm’s olive trees are spaced approximately 2.5 m by 5 m apart with all our groves currently under irrigation. By planting different olive cultivars in every orchard block, the farm allows for cross-pollination to take place in order to establish a staggered harvest period.

The farm is irrigated through a double-lateral drip irrigation (DD) system, which supplies 11.5 L of water per hour to every tree. Our main sources of water are the Breede River Irrigation Scheme, the Hex River and the abundance of rainfall during the winter months.

Hand-Harvesting Our Olives

The exact harvest date in the Western Cape normally stretches from March to July or even late August. At Willow Creek Olive Estate, we make use of manual labor to harvest our olives.

To determine the optimal harvesting time for olives intended for oil production, the following criteria should be adhered to:

    • The olives must have the maximum weight of oil.
    • The quality of the oil must be optimal.
    • Fruit and tree damage must be minimal.
    • Next year’s crop must not be affected.
    • Harvesting costs must be kept as low as possible.
In order to adhere to the above criteria, Willow Creek Olive Estate is a firm believer in producing all of our olive oils locally. Our exceptional products are not only a testament to the incredible farming conditions and terrain that South African farmers are lucky enough to benefit from, but it also allows us to compete with other countries on the international olive oil market.

By harvesting our olives right where we produce and store our products, we don’t have to store or transport our olives for extended periods of time. This ensures that all of our products are bottled right at the source, which means you get the freshest possible olive oil.

Harvesting requires a delicate touch

The rate of olive picking is influenced by lots of factors, like the cultivar and the size of the tree. With that said, 60kg of olives on average can be harvested per adult on a daily basis with regards to table olives. Delicate handling is required when harvesting table olives seeing as damaged produce will not be readily accepted by processors. 

Over 100kg of olives used for extra virgin olive oil production can be plucked per adult per day. All our olives are processed within 24 hours in order to produce high-quality extra virgin olive oil.

Following harvesting, all twigs and debris are removed and the olives are washed thoroughly. The olives are then crushed into a paste, with malaxing of the paste following suit.

Afterwards, the oil is separated from the olive paste by centrifugal force in a decanter and then left in tanks to separate further in a process known as ‘racking’. Finally, the oil is stored in large stainless steel tanks in a temperature-controlled room, with every cultivar stored in its own tank.

At Willow Creek Olive Estate, our master oil blender then takes the olive oils and mix or infuse them with complementary flavours in order to produce our award-winning olive oil range.

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