BEST BLEND: Karen McLennan, from Sommariva Olives, is over the moon after winning gold and silver at the Olive Oil Asia competition.
BEST BLEND: Karen McLennan, from Sommariva Olives, is over the moon after winning gold and silver at the Olive Oil Asia competition. Molly Hancock

Sommariva sure has the good oil

SOMMARIVA Olives is not only a boutique olive grove based 38km east of Charleville, but now an international award-winning company.

Karen and Bill McLennan have recently been awarded gold and silver for two of their unique olive oil blends in Japan's Olive Oil Asia competition.

Sommariva Olives' Hardy's Mammoth Variety took out gold, which earlier this year won bronze at the Los Angeles Extra Virgin Olive Oil Awards, and their Paragon Variety (Frantoia) won silver.

The competition consisted of 727 entires worldwide and a panel of eight judges grading the oil on its taste and smell.

"When the olive oil is being judged it has to go through a lot of testing. It has to have the right polythene level, the right acidity level, peroxide level and if it passes all of those things then it goes in front of the judging panel and they judge it on smell and taste and then score it.

The McLennan's originally got into the olive oil business after Mrs McLennan's sister and husband returned from a trip to Italy and Greece.

"They said we should have a go at growing olives because our climate is similar to Greece and Italy.

"We did a bit of research and in 1996 we put one block of trees in as a trial and picked about seven different varieties and it all worked out.

"However, it takes about 10 years for the trees to get going so we didn't start processing it properly until 2006,” she said.

After 25 years involved with olive oil, last year Sommariva attended a seminar in Toowoomba hosted by the Olive Oil Council and the journey to their award-winning oil began.

"The organiser of the Olive Council contacted me and asked me to send some olive oil down, so I did and there was an international judge there who said our oil was great and we needed to get it overseas because it is award-wining,” Mrs McLennan said.

Mrs McLennan said they could have never imagined this happening when they started growing olives back in 1996.

"It's only onward and upward from here and if we keep winning awards we will probably continue to expand.

"Looking back now we never thought it would have gone so well,” she said.

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