Margaret River produces high quality olive oil that tastes like olive oil should, as well as containing the health benefits imported oils lack. Dianne Bortoletto chats with one of the region’s small producers.
Petra Olive Oil Estate began as a retirement project in 1999 when Melina Somas’ parents planted some olive tree saplings in Yallingup. Fast-forward seven years to the first glorious pressing of olive oil and a year later, Petra Olive Oil Estate was officially opened. Petra, which means stone or rock in Greek, is a nod to Melina’s heritage and provenance to the land. When they were digging the three dams on the 30-acre property, they found natural granite rock and used it in the construction of the buildings on the estate.
Petra Olive Grove has 1,200 olive trees; the fruit is handpicked and pressed on site in small batches, using only the first press to create ‘Extra Virgin’ olive oil. There are over 1,000 varieties of olives in the world. The Petra Premium Cold Pressed Extra virgin olive oil contains eight different varieties of olives that they grow on their estate, a blend of Italian, Greek and Spanish varieties: Frantoio (Tuscany, Italy), Koroneiki (Greece), Kalamata (Greece), Leccino (Tuscany, Italy), Nevadillo Blanco (Spain), Pendullino (Italy), WA Mission (France/Spain/USA/Australia) and Picholine (France; used as a cross-pollinator).
Myth-busting some olive facts, Melina explains that there’s no such thing as green and black olive varieties.
“All olives start off green and as they ripen, they turn black. The green Sicilian olives you see in jars in the major supermarkets are dyed green – horrible thought isn’t it?” she says as I shudder.