Forging a Future
Central Otago value: Making a Difference
Anna and Stephen are pioneers of olive oil production in Central Otago, courageously setting inspirational new directions.
“When we first got here we decided we were going to be independent…we just wanted to be our own bosses. We wanted to make the best oil we possibly could and control the process. So, we got an olive press…the first commercial press in Central Otago. It was a bit of a gamble because nobody knew whether the olives would produce oil.”
“In the first year we only had about 3kgs of olives of our own. It was a lot of fun getting other olives to commission the press …we were fortunate that some supportive growers were happy giving olives to get the press running. We even went to Roxburgh and picked olives from a little cottage there…we traced every olive tree around the district.”
The Good Oil
Central Otago value: Having Integrity
Exacting quality without compromise is fundamental to Anna and Stephen’s success. As Central Otago’s first and largest producer of certified extra-virgin olive oil, they’ve worked hard to establish a reputation for regional excellence.
“We won’t compromise on quality to produce quantity. If trees have frosted fruit on them, we don’t pick them. Frosting taints the oil and it wouldn’t be extra virgin. We’ve always had our oil tested—both chemically and sensory—to prove that it is extra virgin olive oil.”
“When we set up the plant room we consulted with the Council’s Environmental Officer to ensure that right from the outset we complied with the Health Act requirements. We are able to look back and feel good about it, and sleep well at night.”
A Harmonious, Enduring Legacy
Central Otago value: Protecting Our Rich Heritage
The Clarks celebrate the local flora, respecting the land’s heritage and future. Poppies, wild flowers and mosses are allowed to flourish between the trees. They ramble the dry, sun-scorched banks picking wild thyme that is cleaned and dried before being pressed with the last, ripest olives picked for the season —infusing it with the distinctive wild thyme earthiness that murmurs `Central Otago.’
In realising their dreams, Anna and Stephen are creating an enduring legacy.
"Our oldest trees are up to 18 years old, so they are very young. They are old enough to be physiologically mature but compared to the age they can grow to, they’ve hardly been in preschool yet. It would be lovely to think that, in a 1000 years’ time, a wife is grizzling because she has to pick the olives."