Crush’s Top Local Extra Virgin Olive Oils 2022
You might ask ‘what makes a good olive oil?’ Should it hail from Spain or do the olives have to be kissed by the Tuscan sun? Well, not quite – it’s a combination of the right climate, the olives being cold-pressed and the craftsmanship of passionate growers. If you travel to the farmlands and valleys of South Africa, you’ll be surprised to find Mediterranean-like climates that are perfect for olive cultivation.
While some would complain about having hot summers and cool winters, these are actually perfect conditions for certain olive cultivars to thrive in. From the sought-after Arbequina and Coratina cultivars to Frantoio, Leccino and Mission – we’re growing some of the best quality olives and producing world class local extra virgin olive oil. Whether drizzling over burrata or whipping up a basil pesto, purists and olive oil connoisseurs have plenty to choose from when selecting from the outstanding local olive oil options.
Local Extra Virgin Olive Oils
Good quality olive oil not only imparts great flavour to your dishes but also boasts numerous health benefits, like being high in antioxidants and a fantastic source of monounsaturated fats. With an outpouring of olive oil brands on the local market, deciding which to purchase can become rather difficult. So, to make things easier, we’ve hand-picked some of our favourite local extra virgin olive oils and because they each have varying styles and tasting notes, we’ve suggested some savoury and sweet recipes to incorporate them into.
Babylonstoren Farm is located in the heart of South Africa’s Cape Winelands, close to Franschhoek. This working farm is adored for its local olive oil, farm-to-fork restaurants and awe-inspiring gardens at its core. The olives are harvested by hand in the farm’s olive groves and are cold-extracted on the farm, before being decanted into uniquely designed tins. The latest addition to their range is their Coratina Extra Virgin Olive Oil, which sits alongside their Extra Virgin Frantoio Oil and their Extra Virgin Olive Oil blend. The powerful antioxidants in the Coratina oil make it particularly great in neutralising free radicals, while acting as a strong anti-inflammatory agent.
This single-variety olive oil is cold-extracted from only Coratina olives and permeates aromas of dried herbs, green leafy vegetables and even hints of green banana. Coratina Extra Virgin Olive Oil is renowned to be more intense, with flavours reminiscent of radicchio and artichoke. The bitter and peppery notes blend exquisitely to produce a complex oil. Babylonstoren’s Coratina EVOO enhances and adds dimension to the foods you pair it with – especially stronger flavours in steak dishes, and heavier soups and stews.
Origin: Simonsberg, Franschhoek Valley
Cultivar: 100% Coratino
Tasting Notes: aromas of dried herbs, green leafy vegetables, hints of green banana, radicchio and artichoke; bitter and peppery notes.
Price: R150 (500ml)
Recipe Inspiration: This well-balanced olive oil is the ultimate dressing for this wholesome Roasted Root Vegetable & Pomegranate Salad.
*Babylonstoren farm hosts daily tours and olive oil tasting sessions. You can even make a unique blend of your own to take home. Visit their site for more info.
Denneboom Vineyards & Wildlife
Tucked in the valley of Voor-Paardeberg, near Paarl, lies Denneboom – a farm that has been in the De Waal family for four generations. It is in this exquisite valley that Elizabeth and Willem de Waal run their farm, not only as owners but as custodians of the land. They work hand-in-hand to create local olive oil, as well as delicious wines. The couple’s nurturing and creative approach to heritage farming ensures that their produce remains true to nature, with minimum intervention.
In the olive orchards, some of which date back to the fifties, the trees are left to develop their own unique characteristics. The olives are hand-picked at the end of the hot summers and are cold extracted in small batches, resulting in the delicate blend that Denneboom is known for. Denneboom Extra Virgin Olive Oil is a cold-pressed blend of Frantoio, Leccino and Coratina olives with a mildly sweet, yet peppery finish – the perfect marriage of flavours for salad dressings and seasonal vegetables.
Origin: Voor-Paardeberg valley, Paarl
Cultivar: Frantoio (50%), Leccino (30%) and Coratina (20%)
Tasting Notes: almond, pine seed; mildly sweet and peppery finish.
Price: POA for 250ml, 500ml, 1L & 5L
Recipe Inspiration: The peppery flavours of the Coratina in this olive oil blend make this Irish Pork Stew with Colcannon even more delectable.
Rio Largo Olive Estate
‘Look for the red fox’ in the little Karoo, and you’ll find RIO LARGO Olive Estate. Situated in the Scherpenheuwel Valley, on the southern banks of the Breede River, the estate implements biodynamic farming practices, contributing to RIO LARGO’s farm-to-table philosophy of protecting the estate for future generations. Bought by Nick and Brenda Wilkinson from Carlos Raposo (the” Fox”) in 2010 – the estate comprises olive orchards, vines and a MORI TEM olive processing and bottling plant. The terroir is perfect for olive growing with high sunshine hours and cold winters.
When you combine their Italian cultivars, state-of-the-art processing facilities and owner-driven passion, you have a winning recipe. The Italian-style cultivars of Coratino, Frantoio and Leccino and FS 17 are grown, hand-picked, produced and bottled to order. A delicious olive oil – try it, you’ll love it!
Origin: Scherpenheuwel Valley, Breede River
Style: Strong medium
Cultivar: Coratino, Frantoio and Leccino, and FS 17
Tasting Notes: clean, fresh aromas and vegetal notes of green beans, mixed salad leaves, accompanied by a lovely nuttiness on the palate. Good mouthfeel, with balanced polyphenols – the pepper lingers enticingly.
Recipe inspiration: This medium-style oil pairs best with this Salmon & Spinach Poke Bowl.
De Rustica Olive Estate
De Rustica Olive Estate is surrounded by World Heritage Sites and the unique floral diversity of the Klein Karoo, where ideal growing conditions for its award-winning local olive oils are provided in abundance. The artisanal care taken in the production and blending processes results in cold-pressed EVOO of exceptional quality.
The outstanding De Rustica Collection includes Arbequina, Coratina and Frantoio single cultivar EVOO’s, while the Estate Range provides a series of well-balanced blends. The Estate Collection Coratina has remained their most acclaimed EVOO both nationally and internationally. This well-balanced local olive oil features complex tasting notes – from fresh hints of tomato to sweet palate notes – it presents the perfect opportunity to experiment with both sweet and savoury food pairings.
Origin: Swartberg Mountains, De Rust
Tasting Notes: fresh notes, fruity complexity with aromas of apple, almond, tropical fruit and fresh plums; vegetal aromas of green tomatoes and strong bitter notes with peppery undertones.
Price: R165.00 (500 ml) | Available for purchase online (site below) or at select Checkers and PnP stores nationally.
Recipe Inspiration: The intensity of this olive oil is great for spicy recipes like these Peri Peri Pork Neck Espetada with Lemon Yoghurt Dipping Sauce.
The Greenleaf Olive Company
From their trees to your table, Greenleaf’s olives are carefully grown, nurtured and processed to offer you the best quality EVOO. The 330-hectare family-owned-and-run olive estate, on the banks of the Breede River, near Swellendam in the Western Cape, is one of the most extensive olive groves in Southern Africa. Greenleaf’s groves are home to 180,000 olive trees and nine different cultivars. They harvest their olives in optimum conditions and deliver it to their state-of-the-art processing plant for cold-extraction in the shortest possible time to ensure freshness. Their olive oil is 100% South African Extra Virgin Olive Oil of the best quality. Multiple cultivars are skilfully blended according to the distinct flavour profile of this olive oil.
Greenleaf Extra Virgin Olive Oil is a delicate style, multi-varietal EVOO with fragrant aromas of green grass, ripe almond and floral undertones. This multiple award winner is well-balanced and immensely versatile. It is an all-rounder and is suitable for everyday cooking, baking, marinades, salads and adding a finishing drizzle to dishes.
Origin: Breede River, Swellendam
Cultivar: multi-varietal blend
Tasting notes: green grass, ripe almond and floral undertones
Price: R 94.99 (500ml) | R 169.99 (1L) | Available at Checkers, Pick ‘n Pay and Spar stores throughout South Africa.
Recipe inspiration: The delicate flavours of this EVOO make it perfect for these Baked Carrot Cake Doughnuts.
Klipvlei, situated near Paarl in the Boland, is renowned for its olive oil, beautiful vineyards and wines. The estate grows and processes four primary types of olives. Calamata and Mission cultivars are used to produce table olives, while their Leccino and Frantoio olives are cold pressed for extra virgin olive oils that are free from additives.
From planting a few olive trees many years ago, Klipvlei has grown into a self-sustaining farming operation, committed to developing for the sake of future generations. Currently home to the fourth and fifth-generation Geldenhuyse, co-owner and farmer Nicolaas Geldenhuys, advocates for the importance of incorporating olive oil into daily diets for its invaluable nutrients. Klipvlei Extra Virgin Olive Oil is produced from green ripe olive and features medium-intensity, nutty tasting notes, as well as subtle fruity notes.
Origin: Boland, Paarl
Cultivar: Leccino and Frantoio
Tasting Notes: olive leaf, almond, walnut, pine seed, green banana, apple
Price: POA | *Klipvlei EVOO can be purchased at the farm or from one of their suppliers.
Recipe Inspiration: The nutty profile of this olive oil enhances the umami flavour of the mushroom in this Marinated Wild Mushroom Pasta with Walnut Crumble.
Great care is taken to ensure the health of the soil, trees and fruit at Kransfontein Olive Farm. The olives are pressed immediately after harvesting to prevent any fermentation. Their delicate-style oil is made from Mission olives, producing a soft, fruity flavour. Frantoio olives produce oil with a well-balanced flavour that one would expect from a typical Italian oil. Coratina olives are used for their intense oil with strong, fruity and peppery flavours loved by the connoisseur.
Established in 1833, Kransfontein is amalgamated from four farms, three of which were once owned by renowned author, Wilbur Smith, where he wrote some of his first novels. Nearly twenty years ago they planted 10 000 olive trees and later transformed the farms into the place of tranquillity and beauty that they are today. Kranfontein Estate has since reaped many awards – their Coratina oil won the Top 5 Award in 2015 and 2016. In 2017 their Coratina oil won the Top 10 Awards. Their Frantoio oil was also rated the best medium oil in the country by the Marco Zichella Awards in 2016.
Cultivar: Mission, Frantoio, Coratina
Tasting notes: well-balanced, soft, fruity flavours
Recipe inspiration: The light fruity flavours of this olive oil make it ideal for bakes like this Olive Oil & Herb Crusted Loaf with Chunky Olive & Feta Dip.
Situated in the Dwars River Valley of Franschhoek is Lamara Estate, a historic farmland dating back to the 1850s. Today, they strive to achieve ecological, sustainable and socially mindful farming practices. Their olives are hand-harvested by raking the fruit from the branches to minimise damage to the fruit and are picked at optimal ripeness.
Lamara Extra Virgin Olive Oil is produced solely by mechanical means to ensure that the finest quality is achieved. Their characteristic blend of Frantoio, Coratino, Leccino and Mission olives is a balanced symphony of different aromas, with good bitterness and medium spicy flavour that’s pleasing to the palate. This local olive oil pairs beautifully with sautéed vegetables, pasta, marinades, dips or to finish delicious soups.
Origin: Two Rivers, Franschhoek
Cultivar: Frantoio, Coratino, Leccino, Mission
Tasting Notes: almond, fresh grass, tomato and artichoke; good bitterness and medium spicy
Price: R100 (500ml)
Recipe Inspiration: Drizzle some Lamara EVOO over this comforting and flavourful Gnocchi in Creamy Basil Pesto Sauce.
Nestled at the foot of the Swartberg Mountains, lies Droëkloof Boutique Olive Estate – home to Pètra Olives. This mountainous terroir welcomed its first olive trees in 2007 and has gone on to receive numerous awards at the annual SA Olive competitions, since 2014. The 6th generation members of the Nel family currently tend to this secluded gem, with Pieter Nel continuing to nurture the olive trees.
Pètra Extra Virgin Olive Oil varietals predominantly include Frantoio, supported by Leccino, Mission and a smattering of Manzanilla, Coratina, Koroneiki and Piqual olives. Their cold-extracted and well-balanced local olive oil features fresh aromas, with tasting notes of green olives, artichoke, and a slight fruitiness.
Origin: Swartberg Mountains, Calitzdorp
Cultivar: Mission, Frantoio, Leccino, as well as Manzanilla, Coratina, Koroneiki and Piqual
Tasting Notes: ripe green olives, artichoke, tomato and green apple.
Price: R130 (500ml)
Recipe Inspiration: Nothing beats the pairing of ripe tomato and fresh basil with a drizzle of olive oil. This simple, yet tasty recipe for Charred Tomato and Lemon Cottage Cheese Tartines is the best way to enjoy the full flavours of this delicious olive oil.
Willow Creek Olive Estate
Known for its award-winning products, the estate’s exquisite Directors’ Reserve Extra Virgin Olive Oil is delicately composed to satisfy the flavour preference of EVOO connoisseurs. The result is the invariably robust flavours of this premium quality olive oil.
The farm’s success can be regarded as the product of outstanding teamwork and undiluted passion. Willow Creek Olive Estate’s local and international awards serve as an affirmation of the superior quality of their product range. The dominant olive cultivars used to produce Willow Creek Olive Estate’s Directors’ Reserve EVOO are Coratina and Frantoio. Complex aromas of artichokes and tomato vines are followed by the flavour of fresh rocket and salad herbs, making it the ideal pairing for most culinary creations. A satisfying bitterness and tingling pungency give body to the extra virgin olive oil, without overpowering the flavour.
Origin: Nuy Valley, Worcester
Cultivar: Coratina, Frantoio
Tasting Notes: artichokes, tomatoes, fresh rocket, salad herbs
Price: R69.90 (250 ml) | R109.91 (500ml)
Recipe Inspiration: The peppery flavours and satisfying bitterness of this olive oil pair beautifully in this Zaalouk with Fried Halloumi & Toasted Pita Bread.
Want to learn more about EVOO? Check out our guide to tasting olive oil.
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