Olives & Oils in the Matakana Region
Some of the finest things in life are beholden to terroir. Wine, coffee, chocolate, cheese and olive oil all rely on environmental factors to give them character. Groves of olive trees can be found in every corner of our region, thriving on the differences among them.
Margaret Legh of the Olive Place bought their Whangaripo property in 2002. “We have had many trips to Italy, and once to Spain,” she says. “For some reason I’ve always had a love of the trees, along with their amazing history.”
As well as producing award-winning oil under the Virtuo banner, the Olive Place plays an instrumental part in the industry by pressing for 50 to 60 other producers.
“We’ve set up The Olive Place to be a ‘centre of excellence’ and we provide assistance to all who wish to learn,” says Legh. “We’ve planted 10 different cultivars to assess which produce best in our regional climate and soils. New Zealand oil is generally more vibrant in flavour due to our climate.”
Ali Skinner of Takatu Olives says the Olive Place is a state-of-the-art facility that contributes to the superior outcome of all who use it. “The best pressing won’t make good oil out of bad olives, but it might make good become special.”
Skinner’s grove includes seven variety of trees, which cross pollinate naturally. Whatever trees produce the best fruit will feature most in the final blend, making for idiosyncratic differences year to year, alongside the variables of terroir.
As Skinner says, “Groves around this area tend to be small and have been planted by people with a passion and interest in growing olives, rather than trying to facilitate substantial financial gain.”
Famous for its winery, restaurant and sculpture trail, lesser known is that Brick Bay produces its own honey and oil. The Oil Taster, when available, is served with bread, dukkah and olives.
Brick Bay | www.brickbay.co.nz | T: 09 425 4690
Formerly of Glenora Estate on Waiheke, husband and wife Sally and Derek Holland bought the property with an existing olive grove three years ago. Following an organic philosophy, they’ve won a number of medals and carved a niche with their corporate gift packs – matching oil with balsamic, wine and chocolate. Sally welcomes walking groups.
Duck Creek Olive Oil | www.duckcreekoliveoil.co.nz | T: 09 422 3634
Heron’s Flight Vineyard
The grove on this family-owned estate is unique in that all the trees are of the same colonial stock. They keep half their bi-annual production for personal use and sell the rest in squat jugs.
Heron’s Flight | www.heronsflight.co.nz | T: 09 950 6643
Matakana Olive Co-op
The co-op combines the efforts of seven avid growers, who have eight groves across the region. They press small batches at Salumeria Fontana in Wellsford and bottle it at their facility among the groves in Warkworth. Tours by appointment.
Matakana Olive Co-operative |www.matakanaolivecoop.co.nz | T: 021 162 9811
The Olive Place
Halfway between Pakiri and Wellsford, this is the place to learn about the craft, get your own olives pressed, or stock up on the Virtuo range. Their headquarters also serve as a striking wedding venue. Margie also offers exceptional vinegars to go with her oils (Apple Balsamic and Spiced Merlot), and stylish reusable oil containers for refilling. These guys are multiple, international award-winners.
The Olive Place | www.theoliveplace.co.nz | T: 09 422 3150
Just along the road to Tawharanui, this is the place to go for a casual purchase. Husband and wife Ali and Tony bought the property complete with its bedraggled grove and thought they’d have a go. They were delighted to win a Best in Show Award in 2015, but Ali is equally happy to count 40 locals as regular customers. As well as bottles, there are stainless steel or tin options for bulk refills.
Takatu Olives | www.takatu-olives.co.nz | T: 09 423 0496