The Karoo village of Prince Albert is well loved by South Africans and international visitors for various reasons. Gorgeous old Victorian architecture, art galleries, restaurants, colourful residents and breathtaking natural sights all abound.
But there is another aspect that is not to be overlooked; the town’s celebrated and award-winning olive industry. O for Olive and Prince Albert Olives are well loved for their olives, olive preserves and products, as well as olive oil.
Swartrivier farm is a few minute’s drive from the town centre and is home to olive orchids, the O for Olive brand and Café O restaurant. It also boasts beautiful views of the Swartberg Mountains.
The farm was founded four generations ago by the Bothma family and today is run by Cobus Bothma. It consists of 668 hectares of Karoo landscape, of which 17 hectares are home to some 3000 mature trees. These consist of equal parts Mission and Manzanilla olives, along with leccino and other oil yielding cultivars.
The premium olive oil is cold pressed and bottled on site and has a delicate balance of spicy notes and hints of fruit. The range of succulent olives is complemented by tapenades, chutney, marmalade and salad dressing. O for Olive’s fig, apricot and grape preserves also deserve an honourable mention.
Café O offers tea, cakes, fresh bread, light lunches, tapas and tasting sessions and is open from 09:00 to 16:00 from Tuesday to Friday, and 09:00 to 14:00 on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays. They also have all of O for Olive’s products on sale.
Fred Badenhorst and his son Hein recognised the unique micro-climate of the Prince Albert district. Realising that olives would thrive in the area, they researched, followed the best international practices for growing olives and today continue a family tradition of farming the land for its bountiful fruits.
The Prince Albert Olives orchards were established in 2005 and mainly consist of the Italian cultivars Frantoio, Coratina, Don Carlo and FS17. The harvested fruit is processed in a state-of-the-art mill at the farm’s factory premises in Hope Street in Prince Albert.
The iconic yellow tin of gold medal extra virgin olive oil is blended from a seasonal selection of Frantoio, Leccino, Coratina, Barnea, Dor Carlo, Koroneiki or Favolosa varieties. It can be described as a well balanced, medium style extra virgin olive oil with aromas of green fruit, grass, artichoke and a hint of ripe olives. The olive oil can be purchased straight from the source at the factory shop in Hope Street, and has become a prized condiment in Woolworths and Yuppie Chef. Be sure to look out for the SA Olive CTC Seal, on which the year of the harvest is prominently displayed, indicating the freshness of the contents.