Terrace Edge Vineyard and Olive Grove
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Olive Harvest 2015

Words by Mark Tarr

As the frost thaws, another beautifully warm, still day graces Terrace Edge. The olive harvester has arrived. I love this time of year. While the grape harvest is all tidied away there is more fruit to bring in, more keenly awaited results, more beauty you can taste.

The harvester is an impressive piece of Italian engineering. It grasps each tree and unfolds its inverted umbrella around it. The tree is vigorously vibrated until the olives let go. These rain down inside the “umbrella” and are collected.  A load of leaves and twigs join the party. Once the harvester is full it deposits the bounty into a bin. This is where I set to work. My job is segregation.  Separating the twigs from the berries so to speak. Not that much to it really, the mix of fruit and leaves pass down a shoot and over a jet of air which blows the leaves and twigs away while fruit lands safely in another wooden bin. It’s a satisfying job, starting with a mess of fruit and leaves and twigs, and ending up with a bin of nice clean fruit and a pile of leaf. A wooden bin full to the brim with 300kg of olives is a beautiful sight to behold. Several of these will make up the olive harvest of largely Frantoio and Leccino varieties. We are lucky in the Waipara Valley to have a local olive press with a lazy 1.5km haul from the Terrace Edge Olive Grove to the press.
The young oil is deep green, pleasantly pungent, herbaceous and peppery.  Like first date nerves the early bitterness will mellow as this vibrant oil finds its groove.  I like it best unadulterated and simple either for dipping or drizzled on pasta, potatoes or salad.