Portion 36 Olive Orchard     Devonvale     Stellenbosch

 

The History of Portion 36 Olive Orchard

In the 17th century the huge farm Devonvale was established near Bottelary Hill just outside Stellenbosch. It remained intact until the early 1950's when the farm was subdivided into several sections, each named "Portion" plus a number. Portion 36 Olive Orchard is portion 36 of the old Devonvale Farm.

Portion 36 was originally planted with Grenache grape vines but wine was never produced on the farm.

In 2007 when the old vines were due to be replaced we decided to grow olives. 1600 trees of 7 different cultivars were planted in 2007 and in 2011 we were able to harvest the first crop of both oil and table olives.

The Olive Farmers' History

The orchard is owned and operated by us, Arend and Birgitta Hofmeyr. When the olive orchard was planted it was primarily because we love the beauty of the trees. We thought it would be wonderful to sit on the stoep and have a spectacular peaceful view when we retired.

The olive trees grew quickly and so did our urge for knowledge and facts. The olive industry is young in South Africa compared to Europe, the US and Latin America and almost all oils are imported. South Africa has fantastic prospects for producing good and relatively cheap olive oils - we believe that olives could be as successful as the South African wines.

Ferdinando Costa introduced olive farming in South Africa and his works are both an inspiration and an important source of local knowledge. We researched, both in the orchard and on internet, to learn both the scientific facts and train our fingertips and scrutinizing eyes. Our interest in olive products became more and more focused on what is - and what makes - top quality olives and olive oils. Tasting every oil and olive on the South African market we realised that there were very few olive oils and table olives that we liked and that we considered really good quality. We like green, peppery, pungent olive oils and natural firm table olives. We like our olives to taste of olives, and not be dominated by salt and vinegar. Neither one of us like infused oils or herbs or spices in our table olives. Others have different tastes and that is the way it should be. We let our olives speak for themselves and they do so very well.

Our trees have progressed very well in conditions that they clearly like : our harvest increased from 2 olives in 2009 to 3.5kg in 2010, 1.5ton in 2011 and the last couple of years our yields have been more than 20 tons.


We prune our trees every winter after the harvest. Wellington has now pruned our orchard two years.