Out on the foothills of Mt Canobolas, just 16 kilometres west of Orange, a small olive grove has been producing award winning extra virgin olive oil since 2003.
Originally established in 1994 by John and Lorraine Milla, Abilene Grove is now owned by Kristianne and Karl Ingeman, a couple who take their duty of continuing on the quality established by the Milla’s very seriously.
“Karl had retired as a Colonel from the United States Air Force and we were here visiting my family when we saw the ‘For sale’ sign on the fence,” Kristianne said. “After living overseas for 18 years, and spending five of that in Italy, it just seemed to be the right thing to do.”
Although they had no experience whatsoever in growing olives, John and Lorraine have helped them learn the ropes,
“We had no idea what we were doing,” Kristianne laughs, “But John and Lorraine have done such a great job in selecting the varieties and setting up the grove that everything is working extremely well.”
Olive oil connoisseurs know that not all olive oils are equal. The Abilene Grove olive oil is a blend of Wagga Verdale, Volos, UC13A6, Hardy Mammoth and Kalamata, producing a fruity oil with an intense flavour.
Although there’s not a lot to do in the grove in August, it is bottling time and Kristianne has been busy bottling the olive oil that had just arrived from the Billimari Olive Press.
The olives are processed within 24 hours of being harvested and sits in tanks for 3 months, allowing the sediment to settle.
“We finished picking on the 18th of April and received the oil just a few days ago,” Kristianne said, “Now it’s time for us to start bottling.” This year’s harvest was the biggest on record with 1815 tonnes of fruit producing 1549 litres of the prize-winning oil.
The Ingeman’s use a unique violet glass bottle to avoid any light from damaging the delicate oil within.
This August Abilene Grove will be back at the Orange Region Farmer’s Market having sold their last bottles of the 2014 crop in May.
“I’m really excited to be back at the market’s this month,” Kristianne said, “It’s a great community to be a part of.”
The August Orange Region Farmers Market are on Saturday the 8th of August from 8.30 to 12.30 in the Agricultural Pavillion at the Orange Showground, Leeds Parade, Orange.