There is no denying that 2020 has been a year for the records. In these tumultuous times, South African olive oil producers put their collective shoulder to the wheel and managed to produce 30% more olive oil than in 2019. The quality of these oils are undisputed, as proven by the 104 oils entered into the 2020 SA Olive Awards – of which 101 received medals. This is a 97% hit rate. In 2019, ninety-three oils were entered into the competition and 87% of the oils received medals.

Before an olive oil can be entered into the competition, it has to be certified as an extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) – the highest quality grade for an olive oil. These oils are tested by a panel of taste experts, and upon qualifying as an EVOO, they receive the SA Olive CTC seal. The CTC seal is there to ensure consumers that they are buying a fresh and locally produced pure extra virgin olive oil.

Of the 104 EVOOs entered into the 2020 SA Olive Awards, 20 received bronze medals, 47 silver medals and 34 gold medals. Some olive oil estates can also boast with multiple medal winners in the various categories. Here are the winning producers and their oils:

Bronze medal winners

De Hut Olive Farm (2 x bronze), Gabriëlskloof, Galenia Estate (2 x bronze), Het Bos Olives, Kadimah Olive Estate, Kransfontein Landgoed, Lions Creek Olive Estate (2 x bronze), Marbrin Olive Growers, Olijvenhof Olive Estate (2 x bronze), Porterville Olives (2 x bronze), The Greenleaf Olive Company, Three Sisters Montpellier, Vigne d’Or, and Willow Creek Products (2 x bronze).

Silver medal winners

Anysbos, Babylonstoren (2 x silver), Duikersdrift, Exdiem, Fraaigelegen Farm (2 x silver), Gabriëlskloof, Galenia Estate, Groote Vallei, Het Vlock Casteel, Kadimah Olive Estate (2 x silver), Kloovenburg Olives, Kransfontein Landgoed (3 x silver), L’Ormarins, Lapithos Olive Growers, Lions Creek Olive Estate (3 x silver), Marbrin Olive Growers (2 x silver), Mardouw Investments ZA, Mount Ceder Pty Ltd, Oakhurst Olives (3 x silver), Olive Boutique (2 x silver), Oudewerfskloof, PG Fruit Olives, Porterville Olives, Rio Largo Olive Estate, Rockhaven Farm, Stadsig, The Greenleaf Olive Company, Tokara (4 x silver), Vigne d’Or (2 x silver), Wildekrans, Willow Creek Products, and Zoetigheyd.

Gold medal winners

Babylonstoren, Cederberg Olives, Chaloner (2 x gold), De Hut Olive Farm (2 x gold), Fraaigelegen Farm, Friesland Farm, Kleinbergskloof Olive Estate (3 x gold), Kleine Haaskraal, L’Ormarins, Lapithos Olive Growers, Mardouw Investments ZA, Morgenster (3 x gold), Olive Boutique (2 x gold), Oudewerfskloof (2 x gold), PG Fruit Olives, Porterville Olives, Rio Largo Olive Estate (2 x gold), Serrado Olive Estate, Tokara, Wildekrans (2 x gold), and Zoetigheyd (4 x gold).

A panel of expert judges rigorously tested all the entrees over a period of five days. For Reni Hildenbrand, master olive oil taster, this was her 14th year as a judge on the SA Olive Awards tasting panel. She commented that ‘the amount of gold medals reflects the quality of the oils and there were many oils with unique flavour profiles that included tropical fruit, herbs, nuts and floral flavours.’ She also lauded the very good ‘mouth feel’ and overall balance of the entrees.

Nick Wilkinson, SA Olive’s Chairman, had high praise for his fellow producers. He said that ‘our producers need to be congratulated on once again producing world-class oils in testing times, whilst adhering to stringent lockdown measures during harvesting. We don’t need to stand back for anyone on the international olive oil stage and we should operate as a united front in educating consumers about the benefits of premium quality, locally produced products – local is lekker! We salute all the participants for a job well done.

The local olive oil industry has shown its mettle through droughts and pandemics and continues to honour their quality commitment to consumers, whilst standing shoulder-to-shoulder with their international counterparts.

Local celebrity, Minki van der Westhuizen, and well-known television presenter and food writer, Ilse van der Merwe, presented this year’s SA Olive Awards. Meerendal sponsored the event venue and the industry sponsors were Olimio and Pieralisi.