The people and the land that bring you exceptional olive oils
“Do olive trees grow in New Zealand?” is probably the most frequently asked question we have encountered since we started doing business in Singapore. This blog post introduces Olivo, our flagship brand while providing you a brief look at why olive trees not only grow but thrive in New Zealand.
Oldest commercial olive grove in the Wairarapa region of New Zealand
Olivo is the oldest commercial olive grove in the Wairarapa. It was planted in 1991 by pioneers of the New Zealand olive industry, Robin and Ian Lockie, and first started producing award-winning extra virgin olive oil in 2001. Helen and John Meehan bought Olivo in May 2003 and have extended it to 1200 olive trees; the main cultivars are Barnea, Manzanillo, Leccino, Frantoio, and Koroneiki. Their intent is to create innovative and top-quality oils that pair with excellent food and the great wines that Martinborough produces – oils that are boutique, artisan, and gorgeous. Proud to be a 100% New Zealand-owned company and to be presented the ‘Best Brand Award’ by Olives New Zealand in 2017.
Helen and John Meehan at their Olivo tasting room. (Photo: Olivo)
Olive trees thrive in New Zealand’s green pastureland
As with any natural produce, differences in climate and soil conditions where they are grown influence quality and taste attributes. New Zealand’s cool climate produces a distinctly cool-climate oil which could be considered similar to the oils produced in the more traditional cooler olive growing regions like Tuscany. However, unlike the dry stony Mediterranean hillsides where olives are traditionally grown, NZ olives thrive in New Zealand’s green pastureland. This provides the conditions for strong, herbaceous, grassy flavors often described as full-bodied and fruity, similar to the world-famous Sauvignon Blancs made from grapes grown in a similar environment. The long hot summers, followed by cool winters, produce abundant, healthy, exceptionally tasty oil.
Olive trees thrive in Martinborough's green pasturelands.
The Wairarapa’s distinctive and complex olive oils sweep awards
Olivo is located in Martinborough in the Wairarapa region of New Zealand where its unique maritime climate produces distinctive and complex tasting extra virgin olive oils. The maritime climate and soil in the Wairarapa region in the south-eastern corner of the North Island, produce distinctive and complex tasting oils. The Wairarapa olive-growing area is also unique in that while about 14% of New Zealand’s olive trees are grown here, owing to the commitment and passion of the many small-lot growers in this region, it has produced numerous award-winning olive oils. In 2020, Wairarapa olive oil makers swept the annual NZ Extra Virgin Olive Oil Awards, winning four of the five major awards for Olive Oil Excellence.
Olivo olive grove in Martinborough (Photo: Olivo)
Mentoring a new generation of olive growers in Martinborough
Olivo’s Helen Meehan has mentored and consulted with numerous olive growers in our small yet dynamic community in Martinborough. In addition to being founders of Olive Oil People, we own and operate a small olive grove of 380 trees in Martinborough. We have supplied our olive fruit yearly to Olivo since 2016, and we are on Olivo’s tree care regime. To us, Olivo’s Helen and John Meehan are mentors, business partners, and friends. We share their passion for advancing the quality, trade, and appreciation of NZ olive oil. For you, this means an assurance of true quality above and beyond labeling authentication. You are buying directly from people who are not only passionate producers but well-respected experts and members of their community who are close to the ground.
Our first harvest on our grove under the tutelage of Helen Meehan and team -June 2016
Olivo offers versatile extra virgin olive oils and adventurous infused oils
Olivo offers 3 main labels of extra virgin and a wide range of infused olive oils. The extra virgin olive oils are made with olive varietals (Barnea, Manzanillo, Frantoio, Leccino, Koroneiki) growing on Olivo’s grove and procured from smaller (and well-cared) groves in Martinborough. Keen to expand the usage of olive oil, inspire experimentation, and position Olivo alongside food trends, they were among the first to offer infused oils including adventurous infusions like fennel, smoked paprika, vanilla, cumin, saffron, and the popular lemon and porcini. In addition to shopping on our website, you can find some Olivo labels at Little Farms grocery stores across Singapore.
Olivo Estate extra virgin olive oil
Olivo’s lemon-infused olive oil delicious on vanilla ice cream