We chat to the founder of Hunter Valley Olive Co. Steve Goodchild about how he started the brand, what he loves most about his job and the secret to creating a quality range of products.
What do you love most about your job?
I get satisfaction out of taking the product from the very basic beginning of growing the fruit (grapes or olives), harvesting the fruit, processing the fruit, blending the oil or vinegar, bottling, labeling, and seeing it right through to the retailer and the end consumer. Paddock to plate is very important to me.
Is it very much a family business?
Yes, in every aspect. Our key staff involved with the business are also very much a part of our family.
Have you always been passionate about olive oil?
I would say I have always been passionate about farming and instinctively passionate about production at so many levels. I first become interested and then employed in the olive industry in 1995, vinegar came later when I started making vinegar in 2006.
Can you tell us a bit about the process of making the oil.
This is an entire story in itself. Essentially we monitor fruit ripening and then harvest when I would consider the time is right to produce the style of oil we would like. Fruit is harvested into bins and transported to the olive processing facility. The olives are crushed and the oil extracted, then stored in stainless steel tanks, then the oil is settled , filtered, blended, and bottled.
Why is extra virgin olive oil better for you?
What makes an olive oil more premium?
Fruit quality, varietal choice, timing of harvest, time from harvest to pressing to tank, post harvest storage conditions, packaging conditions. At HVOC we ensure we meet all this criteria.
Does the region affect the flavour of the oil?
Yes within reason, harvest timing also has a major impact.
What makes the Hunter Valley growing region unique?
It is considered a warm growing region and therefore allows for longer ripening periods which can often give the grower a greater level of control over the flavor profile of the fruit/oil.
What characteristics make HVOC stand out from other extra virgin olive oils?
Fresh, balanced, fruity style oils. Not harsh and peppery/bitter oils like a lot of cold climate oils.
Why should flavoured olive oils be a pantry essential?
They are a great way to add extra characters to your day to day cooking. They’re particularly good for people who are time poor or can’t access the ingredients that they enjoy due to seasonal changes or accessibility.
How have you developed the flavoured combinations?
By enjoying food………..I like food and trying out different flavour combinations.
What are your top selling products?
Which is your favourite flavour and what dishes do you use it on?
Premium mild and Fruity EVOO and Aged Balsamic. I use on most dishes in some way or another, whether it’s salads, roast vegetables, pastas or drizzled over pizza.
What experience do you want customers to have when they use your brand?
A sense of value for money where the product has exceeded their own expectations and a healthier choice.
Why should people support local producers and Australian-made products?
The harsh reality is that if they don’t eventually the Australian producers will simply cease to trade at a viable level and the Australian brands will disappear from the shelves as we are currently observing every day.
Do you have any plans to launch new lines or other flavours?
Yes – our new red wine vinegar has just been bottled – a classic style red wine vinegar made from Hunter valley Shiraz. You can read more about it here.