Cradle Coast Olives Best of Show at AIO Awards

Tony and Carol O'Neill in their Olive Grove in Tasmania
Cradle Coast Olives owners Carol and Tony O’Neil walking through their grove at Abbotsham after taking home six national awards. Picture: Simon Sturzaker courtesy the Tasmanian Advocate

Tasmanian producer Cradle Coast Olives has taken the coveted Best EVOO of Show title at the 2018 Australian International Olive Awards, earning the judges’ highest score for its “Essence of the Cradle” South Australian Verdale varietal extra virgin olive oil (EVOO).

Beating a strong field of gold-medal winning entries, Cradle Coast owners Carol and Tony O’Neill took home a swag of trophies for Essence of the Cradle, including Champion Mild EVOO, Best Tasmanian EVOO, Best Australian EVOO and Best Southern Hemisphere EVOO, along with the Champion Medium EVOO award for their Paragon varietal.

This is far from the first time that Cradle Coast Olives has taken out top prizes in this event, showing that consistency in production standards pays off in the long run.

Joining them as major category winners were Gooramadda Olives, which won the Best Table Olive of Show and Best Table Olive Southern Hemisphere awards for its Kalamata; and Kyneton Olive Oil, which took home Best Flavoured Olive Oil of Show for its Basil Agrumato. Spanish producer Goya championed in both oil and table olive categories, taking the Best EVOO Northern Hemisphere award for its Goya® “Unico” and the Best Table Olive Northern Hemisphere for its Manzanilla Stuffed with Minced Hot Pepper.

Olive oil quality is increasing

Competition Chief Steward Trudie Michels said this year’s results were a testament to the continuing commitment to increasing quality across the industry.

“Last year’s very successful show saw medals awarded to 87% of entries, which was a record for the 21 years of the Australian competition. This year an incredible 96% of entries were awarded a medal, raising the quality bar to a completely new level,” she said.

“Of the 145 medals awarded in this year’s extra virgin olive oil competition, 30 were gold (27 in 2017), 69 silver (69 in 2017) and 46 bronze (46 in 2017). The increase in gold medals and the large number of silver medals highlights a stronger focus on oil quality, as does the average score across all oils – 78.67, which equates to a solid silver.

“It reinforces our findings from last year, with the new benchmark in this competition now set at medium-high silver, where in the past it has been a bronze. It is fulfilling to see the industry working hard to raise quality and produce more of these higher-class oils, and wonderful to see producers being rewarded for those efforts.”

Michels said that while the quality reflected that of last year’s “outstanding year”, there were several notable differences to this year’s spread of entries – and winners.

“Of particular interest was a substantial increase in the number of more robust oils entered this year, compared to last year where mild and medium oil numbers were greater,” she said.

“It was also notable that all but one of the eight EVOO Champion of Class awards went to single varietal oils, and each of those seven were different varieties. It shows we’re choosing varieties well suited to our climates, and growing them all well, and also that we’re increasingly recognising and celebrating the flavour nuances of the individual varieties.”

Full list of winners

The winners were announced at the Australian International Olive Awards Gala Presentation Dinner on Friday, 19 October, held in conjunction with the 2018 AOA National Olive Conference & Trade Exhibition in Wagga Wagga, New South Wales.

Full results are available at: