OUR OLIVE GROVE
In the beginning
Establishing the grove has origins going back to the early 1900's of Sicily where previous Darnum Park Estate owners Biagio & Elizabeth Cavallaro had family members who owned a small vineyard on the eastern side of Mt Etna. That vineyard was replanted with olive trees propagated from a single tree on that 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.
Almost a century later, in 2007, 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
A number of regions were looked at for land for olive production and soon realised that Gippsland was going to be the ideal choice with 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.
In June 2020, the grove was sold to Luke & Kelly Sheppard who now run the established grove and marketing of Darnum Park Estates Extra Virgin Olive Oil. With many years of combined horticultural knowledge and experience and having grown up in the Baw Baw region it was an ideal move for us to be able to create our own family run farm and raise our 3 young sons.