Olives were amongst the first plants to be successfully grown in South Australia. George Stevenson brought a tree over on the Buffalo in 1836 and planted it at his ‘Stevenson’s Garden’ in North Adelaide.
The grove in King Rodney Park was planted in 1872, completing an almost continuous belt of olive trees in the east Park Lands from the Adelaide Botanic Gardens to South Terrace. These days you can buy their oil at Willunga Farmers Market.
Lloyd Brothers Wine & Olive Company
Lloyd Brothers wine and olives are made to showcase the best fruit from their Adelaide Hills and McLaren Vale estates. The wines are hand crafted and a great focus on quality is paramount. They offer a range of different products including olive oils, pesto’s and vinegars as well as a small number of wines.
The grove on the Lloyd Brothers property was one of the first commercial olive groves in Australia. The grove is home to a variety of olive trees, the majority of which are koroneki and frantoio. The grove is complemented by a 30 acre Shiraz vineyard which produces grapes to create the Lloyd Brothers Estate range of wines.
With a Mediterranean climate Lloyd Brothers is located just 40 minutes from the Adelaide CBD. The winery is home to the Kalamata and Verdale olive grove which was planted on the property back in the late 1800’s with cuttings from this historic grove helping establish the Australian Olive industry.
Today the winery offers visitors a unique cellar door experience combining their passion for food and wine. The winery and restaurant are open seven days a week. Guests can enjoy the beautiful views and mediterranean style of the cellar door whilst enjoying the Lloyd Brothers wines, olive oil and other products. The winery also has a large outdoor area with plenty of seating where guests can sit and enjoy the sun and the surroundings.
In addition to the wines, olives and oils the cellar door also offers a range of other products such as body care and gourmet foods. The Lloyd Brothers Wine & Olive Company is a must visit for any wine and olive lover.
The Cellar Door is a little slice of Tuscany hidden on the Fleurieu Peninsula. Surrounded by a sea of olive trees the venue is modern and clean with a hint of rustic nostalgia. The hospitality is friendly and welcoming and the wine and food platters are delicious. If you’re planning to go you should book, especially in the winter months as it can be cold out on the terrace and indoors.
Primo Estate Winery
The groves of the McLaren Vale and Fleurieu Coast have become famous for producing some of Australia’s finest olive oil and table olives. This is because the Mediterranean climate in this renowned wine-growing region has perfect conditions for growing the olives. It is not unusual for vineyards and neighbouring properties to tend their own groves, which are then used to make extra virgin olive oil and hand-brined olives that are sold as the perfect accompaniment to a glass of wine.
One of the most well-known and established olive producers in South Australia is Coriole Vineyards, whose groves date back to the late 19th Century. Their olives are hand-picked and then pressed in house to produce a range of extra virgin olive oils, including the classic Kalamata, Verdale and Koroneiki varieties. Coriole’s extra virgin olive oil is so good that it has received a number of international awards over the years.
Lloyd Brothers Wine & Olive Company is also located on an olive estate, and is a must-visit for those visiting the area. Their cellar door is set within a beautiful property complete with an olive tree lined driveway and large dramatic metal sculptures, making it picture perfect on a sunny day. The cellar door is also home to a restaurant that serves local regional produce and of course, their award winning wines. Their boutique olive inspired gift shop is hard to resist, and is the ideal spot to buy a little something for friends or family.
A key figure in the development of the South Australian olive industry was Samuel Davenport, who in 1856 displayed a bottle of oil extracted from his own grove at the Great Exhibition in London. This proved the horticultural suitability of olives and encouraged many landowners to take up cultivation.
In 1872, a grove of olive trees was planted in King Rodney Park, which completed a belt of olive groves running in an easterly direction through the Adelaide Park Lands from Mann Terrace to South Terrace. This grove, along with the grove across Wakefield Road in Victoria Park, still stand today much as they were originally designed.
The Olive Tree
A deciduous tree, the olive tree’s leaves are dark green above and silvery on the underside. The flowers are a creamy white, with two stamens and a bifid stigma, and produce a small drupe (olive fruit) which is oily and slightly peppery in flavour. The groves at McLaren Vale and elsewhere are tended by a collective of passionate producers who hand-pick, brine, and process world-class olive oil and table olives.
Olive trees have an enviable capacity to thrive in harsh conditions. They are a robust, drought-tolerant species that are able to take on cold weather without suffering any damage. In fact, olives are more resistant to frost than eucalyptus or native gums.
In the 1850s Samuel Davenport, known as ‘the Father of the Olive Industry in Australia’, championed the cultivation of olives in South Australia. He planted large groves at Gleeville Farm, the first house built in Beaumont and Wood Park; and at his own home, Beaumont House. He imported an olive press from Chile, which can still be seen at Wood Park.
Today, the groves are heritage listed and protected. They complete a continuous belt across the east Park Lands, from the Adelaide Botanic Gardens to South Terrace. They are also a feature of the historic laneways in the village of McLaren Vale.
As the groves grow in popularity, so too does the demand for their produce. At the moment, local producers can be found selling their produce at Willunga Farmers Market on Saturdays and Sundays. Look out for The Farm Willunga, whose olive brand Lucilla produces a delicious cold-pressed Extra Virgin Olive Oil and olives; Two Hills and a Creek and Virgaras who sell their delicious extra virgin olive oils; and Rio Vista Olives who offer a full range of table olives.
The Olives of the South have earned a deserved reputation as a premium gourmet product. The region’s Mediterranean climate, combined with the commitment of producers to quality, has helped to develop an excellent reputation for a finely crafted product.
The Mediterranean climate and cooling breezes off the Gulf of St Vincent in South Australia’s McLaren Vale wine region is a perfect match for growing olives. Olive groves are found alongside vineyards and many local families also produce wine and olive oil on their own properties. During your next trip to McLaren Vale, make sure you stop in at some of the region’s most loved wineries and olive producers for some delicious local cuisine.
Olives were among the first exotic plants to be introduced to South Australia, with at least one arriving on the HMS Buffalo in 1836. The City of Adelaide’s first grove was established in 1856 when nurseryman John Bailey revegetated the Mann Terrace parklands with olive trees.
Today, McLaren Vale has a thriving olive industry with dozens of producers hand-picking, brining and bottling world-class olives and olive oils. Local favourites include the award-winning Joseph Olive Oil from Primo Estate Winery and the Bonina Olive Grove which is managed by an immigrant family who have a passion for producing quality products.
McLaren Vale is a popular destination for food and wine lovers, with a number of small art and craft galleries scattered throughout the region. A highlight is the Fleurieu Arthouse located in the heart of McLaren Vale. This arts and crafts centre has a wide range of indigenous artwork, pottery, metal sculptures and jewellery for sale.
If you’re looking for something more hands-on, head to Harvest the Fleurieu in December or the lime cave tour at Maxwell Wines and try your hand at picking your own tayberries. There are also a few unusual pick-your-own options like mushrooms in the summer, which are grown in the old mushroom farm at the Maxwell Wines Lime Cave.
The region’s low altitude, Mediterranean climate, and some of the oldest soils in the world have contributed to the renowned quality of McLaren Vale wines. McLaren Vale shiraz is known for its generosity and opulence, with notes of fruit cake and ironstone complemented by pepper and dark chocolate. Its distinctive texture is derived from generous levels of glycerol and high alcohol strengths – typically 14% or more – that come from fully ripe grapes.