Thrilled and overwhelmed, Lisa Buchan and partner Glenn Wigley, of Waikawa Glen Olive Oil, have won gold at the prestigious New York International Olive Oil Competition for their 2020 blend.
With a record 1100 entries from 28 countries, the New York competition is considered to be one of the most prestigious in the world with Waikawa Glen from Manakau, just north of Ōtaki, among six New Zealand entries to enter and win a medal.
Since 2017, Olives New Zealand has selected the top winning entries from the New Zealand competition to enter in the New York contest.
After winning boutique reserve best in show at the New Zealand Extra Virgin Olive Oil Awards along with several other awards, Olives New Zealand entered Waikawa Glen in the New York competition.
Each year gold medals have been awarded, and for the first time a New Zealand organic extra virgin olive oil was entered by Waikawa Glen.
Registered as organic and committed to sustainable growing principles, Waikawa Glen is a boutique grove of about 500 trees.
Converting to organic five years ago and becoming certified last year after completing an organic certification programme, it has shown that using organic principles can be successful.
"We converted to organic about five years ago in the olive grove," Lisa said.
"This means instead of spraying under the trees we mow frequently to keep humidity down, and we mulch our prunings back into the soil.
"A key change we have noticed since we stopped spraying herbicide is that we don't get all the nasty weeds and thistles under the trees any more."
Their award-winning oil, a boutique medium blend, was judged against other organic, medium-intensity blends and was awarded a gold medal, which refers to excellence across multiple quality dimensions.
"The award came as a surprise as 2020 was only our third year of harvesting.
"Although our fellow growers liked our three oils at our regional tasting session, we didn't realise how good they were until we won awards from Olives New Zealand and Auckland's Royal Easter Show.
"We were thrilled and overwhelmed to win gold - although we already had a lot of faith in the New Zealand Olives Association judges' assessment that we were in the top league."
All the entries sent to New York from Olives New Zealand were awarded.
From the Wairarapa, Loopline Olives won two gold medals, with Olive Black and Juno Olives winning a gold medal each. Sapphire Olives from Bay of Plenty won silver.
"The fact that once again the top winning oils from the New Zealand awards have won gold medals at the New York competition is a huge tribute to the calibre of the New Zealand olive oil judging panel," Olives New Zealand executive officer Gayle Sheridan said.
"Their outstanding competency is evidenced by their top winners consistently winning in competitions like New York."