We don’t mean to alarm you, but there is something in the water in Prince Albert. Well something in the water, soil, air and general terroir to be precise. This little gem of a town has bourgeoned into a foodie destination of note over the past few years, and quite rightly so. In fact, there are so many delicious things happening out there that they’re making us all look bad.
A shining example: Prince Albert Olives. We’ve always had a soft spot for pretty packaging, so from the first moment we clapped eyes on their striking yellow tins of Karoo Blend Extra Virgin Olive Oil, it was a done deal – we simply had to find out who was behind this gorgeous, locally-made oil and its eye-catching (recyclable!), old-school packaging.
Turns out, Prince Albert Olives forms part of an intricate tapestry of undisputed coolness that includes a Groot Constantia lineage and non-other than everyone’s favourite Swartland maverick winemaker, Adi Badenhorst of AA Badenhorst Family Wines fame.
Let’s back up. Many moons ago, Japie Badenhorst was the well-known general manager at Groot Constantia for the better part of five decades. Two generations down the line, his innovative heirs Hein and Adi Badenhorst are working together to carry on his legacy of making an honest living off the land and crafting exceptional artisanal products with inimitable South African flair. It all began about twenty years ago, when Hein’s father Fred retired to Prince Albert and started to farm on a small scale. Around the same time hat Adi established his winery, Fred and Hein started the olive farming in earnest, and so the stage was set for some exciting production experiments.
Today, the cousins work together on a number of projects (Hein is the other half of AA Badenhorst Family Wines) and have garnered a reputation for crafting authentic products that showcase each region’s unique terroir. These guys genuinely love their land, and they don’t give a hoot about the style du jour – it’s all about embracing the fruit and gently coaxing out its innate flavours, rather than forcing it to be something it’s not.
Prince Albert is well known for its quality figs, pomegranates, grapes and other fruit. Fresh water, a dry disease-free climate, ample summer heat and frosty winters provide the ideal macro elements for fruit farming. The Badenhorsts recognised the region’s olive-growing potential and began to establish olive groves according to international best practice in 2005, with the Italian cultivars of Frantoio, Coratina, Don Carlo and FS17 forming the backbone of their plantings. Today, the groves encompass no less than 75,000 trees planted across approximately 145ha in Prince Albert and outside the town near the Gamka river.
The groves are managed by Essie Esterhuizen and his team and the harvested fruit is processed in a state-of-the-art Pieralisi mill, capable of processing a whopping four tonnes an hour. The resultant Karoo Blend is a beautifully balanced, medium-style extra virgin olive oil with subtle flavours of green fruit, grass, artichokes, and a delightful hint of sun-ripe olives. It also happens to be a proud recipient of the SA Olive CTC-seal, so you know it’s as fresh as it’s gonna get.
When & Where
Prince Albert Olives is located Hope Street, Prince Albert, but they also have a huge array of stockists throughout the country. In fact, you may even come across their yellow tin in certain parts of the USA, Europe, Scandinavia and the Far East.
Eatsplorer recommends: Drizzling this golden-green olive oil over a fresh Caprese salad made with sun-warm vine tomatoes, full-cream Guernsy milk mozzarella from Gay’s Guernsy Dairy in Prince Albert, and a handful of fragrant basil. Throw a warm, crusty bread in the mix and you’ve got the makings of a Mediterranean-style lunch fit for royalty.
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