In the beginning
The establishment of our olive grove in Darnum has its origins going back to Sicily where my nono (grandfather) bought a small vineyard on the eastern side of Mt Etna in the early 1900’s. Some years later his son Sebastian replanted the vineyard with olive trees propagated from a single tree on the farm.
The olive grove still exists today and produces a mild and fruity olive oil and the trees flourish in the mineral rich volcanic soil.
In 2007, almost a century later and two generations on, Biagio and Elizabeth Cavallaro established Darnum Park Estate in West Gippsland. Eight varieties of olives – Italian, Greek and Spanish – are planted in the iron rich rolling hills of Darnum.
Establishing the grove
We looked at a number of regions to purchase land for olive production and soon realised that Gippsland was going to be the ideal choice because of its fertile soil, abundant rain fall and cold winter climate. Twenty-seven acres of undulating prime land was purchased in 2007, and in September that year the first 540 olives trees were planted. The following year in July 2008, 1,460 olive trees were planted and 2014 a the last 500 olive trees were planted.
Many months of research went into finding suitable varieties for this area and as a result Coratina was one variety chosen because of its early harvest and robust oil characteristics. Frantoio was also a good choice for this area with a mid to late harvest, and the oil is mild and fruity. Koroniki was the third oil variety selected; a late harvest with fresh green flavours and peppery finish. In 2010 our first harvest of Coratina olives produced our first golden drops of extra virgin olive oil.
A section of the grove was set aside for table varieties and Kalamata, Volos, Manzanillo and Californian Queen were planted in 2008. In 2011 the first Kalamata and Volos olives were harvested and pickled.