olive groves in Prince Albert, South Africa

Meet the maker: meet the Badenhorst clan behind the iconic Prince Albert Olive Oil

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We don’t mean to alarm you, but there is something in the water in Prince Albert. Well, something in the water, soil, air and general terroir to be precise. This little gem of a town has bourgeoned into a foodie destination of note known as the pantry of the Karoo with delicious produce such as figs, lamb and olives shining bright. No wonder it is also the birthplace of cool local products such as Prince Albert Olive Oil. We visited this hot little town to meet the makers behind this iconic local brand.

We’ve always had a soft spot for pretty packaging, so from the first moment we clapped eyes on the striking yellow tins of Prince Albert Olive Oil, that was it, we simply had to taste it. Once we did we simply had to find out who was behind this gorgeously delicious, extra virgin olive oil and its eye-catching (recyclable!), old-school packaging that is manufactured in the beautiful Karoo town of Prince Albert.

THE MAKERS

Turns out the producers of Prince Albert Olive Oil, Prince Albert Olives forms part of an intricate tapestry of undisputed coolness that includes a Groot Constantia lineage and non-other than everyone’s favourite Swartland maverick winemaker, Adi Badenhorst of AA Badenhorst Family Wines fame.

Let’s back up. Many moons ago, Japie Badenhorst was the well-known general manager at Groot Constantia for the better part of five decades. Two generations down the line, his innovative heirs Hein and Adi Badenhorst are working together to carry on his legacy of making an honest living off the land and crafting exceptional artisanal products with inimitable South African flair.

It all began about twenty years ago when Hein’s father Fred retired to Prince Albert and started to farm on a small scale. Around the same time that Adi established his winery, Fred and Hein started the olive farming in earnest, and so the stage was set for some exciting production experiments.

Today, the cousins work together on a number of projects (Hein is the other half of AA Badenhorst Family Wines) and have garnered a reputation for crafting authentic products that showcase each region’s unique terroir.

These guys genuinely love their land, and they don’t give a hoot about the style du jour – it’s all about embracing the fruit and gently coaxing out its innate flavours, rather than forcing it to be something it’s not.

THE MAKINGS

Prince Albert is well known for its quality figs, pomegranates, grapes and other fruit. Fresh water, a dry disease-free climate, ample summer heat and frosty winters provide the ideal macro elements for fruit farming.

The Badenhorsts recognised the region’s olive-growing potential and began to establish olive groves according to international best practice in 2005, with the Italian cultivars of Frantoio, Coratina, Don Carlo and FS17 forming the backbone of their plantings. Today, the groves encompass no less than 75,000 trees planted across approximately 145ha in Prince Albert and outside the town near the Gamka river.

Looking for the perfect recipe to make your Prince Albert Olive Oil shine? Here’s our sneaky little recipe for an olive and rosemary focaccia that looks super fancy, but is actually ridiculously easy to make.

The groves are managed by Essie Esterhuizen and his team and the harvested fruit is processed in a state-of-the-art Pieralisi mill, capable of processing a whopping four tonnes an hour.

The resultant Karoo Olive Oil Blend is a beautifully balanced, medium-style extra virgin olive oil with subtle flavours of green fruit, grass, artichokes, and a delightful hint of sun-ripe olives. It also happens to be a proud recipient of the SA Olive CTC-seal, so you know it’s as fresh as it’s gonna get.

When & Where can you find Prince Albert Olive Oil

Prince Albert Olives is located in Hope Street, Prince Albert, but they also have a huge array of stockists throughout the country. In fact, you may even come across their yellow tin in certain parts of the USA, Europe, Scandinavia and the Far East.

Eatsplorer recommends: Drizzling Prince Albert Olive Oil over a fresh Caprese salad made with sun-warm vine tomatoes, full-cream Guernsey milk mozzarella from Gay’s Guernsey Dairy in Prince Albert, and a handful of fragrant basil. Throw a warm, crusty bread in the mix and you’ve got the makings of a Mediterranean-style lunch fit for royalty.

It is not difficult to find inspiration for recycling the tin of Prince Albert Olive Oil, we mean, with beautiful packaging like this!

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Writing Anna-Bet Stemmet | Photography:  Kleinjan Groenewald

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