By her own admission, Joan McGovern of Camilo Olives acknowledges it was ambitious to commit to making world-class extra virgin olive oils before knowing a thing about growing olives.
Fortunately such knowledge may have killed a dream that turned out to be achievable. All it took was years of painstaking research, hard work and trying things that people that knew better hadn’t tried before.
“A friend at the time had mentioned that they were interested in buying a farm and making olive oil, we thought it was a great idea! We eventually found 100 acres with access to water. The farm had a single redgum in the middle and some rows of pine around the reserves and nothing else.”
The challenges started with planting during a drought which set back the timeline of growing in commercial quantities even further than originally expected. These delays ended up being a blessing though as it gave Joan time to research and catch up on learning all about producing olive oil.
“We learned a lot while we were waiting. It gave us time to work out what we were looking for in taste and profile. We finally had a decent quantity around 2008 and that’s when we started trying different blends.”
“It was a good choice picking a variety of olive that isn’t common in Australia but beyond that we were ignorant of what you could and couldn’t do and started making blends that others hadn’t tried.”
“We started entering competitions so we could benchmark our product and refine it into something that actually was world-class. We have a lot of awards but it’s not about trophy-hunting, it’s an excellent way to make sure you’re making something for local taste preferences.”
It may not be trophy-hunting but Camilo certainly does have a lot of trophies. Flos Olei is the world’s guide to buying extra virgin olive oil. It lists the top 500 globally and Camilo has been listed six years running.
Here are just some of the awards Camilo have won
2016 oil awards for 2015 oils
- BEST OF CLASS Southern Hemisphere for Classic Ligurian at Italy’s Domina International Olive Oil Competition (May 2016)
- SILVER for Classic Ligurian at Olive Japan International Olive Oil Competition (April 2016)
- SILVER for Fruity Blend at Olive Japan International Olive Oil Competition (April 2016)
- SILVER for Blood Orange infusion at Olive Japan International Olive Oil Competition (April 2016)
2015 oil awards
- GOLD for Classic Ligurian at Australian Olive Association national show
- BRONZE for Classic Ligurian at Royal Melbourne Fine Food Awards
- SILVER for Farm Blend at Australian Olive Association national show
- BRONZE for Farm Blend at Royal Melbourne Fine Food Awards
- BRONZE for Fruity Blend at Royal Melbourne Fine Food Awards
2015 awards for 2014 extra virgin olive oils
- GOLD for Farm Blend at Olive Japan
- SILVER for Farm Blend at New York International Olive Oil Competition
- GOLD for Fruity Blend at Olive Japan
- SILVER for the Rosemary infusion at Olive Japan
- SILVER for the Blood Orange infusion at Olive Japan
2015 awards for gourmet foods
- SILVER for Lime & Chilli olive salt at Royal Melbourne Fine Food Awards
- BRONZE for Ligurian table olives at Royal Melbourne Fine Food Awards
- BRONZE for Kalamata table olives at Royal Melbourne Fine Food Awards
Why does Camilo use Geelong Compost?
“We have a meter of sand under our feet so we’re trying to add organic matter. It’s good, clean and environmentally friendly. It’s also a great way for us to use our own waste as we’re able to add it to the mix before it’s made. We’re all the better for using compost. It adds value, helps the trees grow and the greater environment in general.”
You can find Camilo Olive Oil at selected locations around Greater Geelong such as East Fruit Market and Harvey’s of Highton. See this page for an up-to-date list.
Find out more about Camilo here.
Picture credit: The Weekly Review