THE OLIVE PRESS
De Rustica was established by Mr. Rob Still, a South African mining entrepreneur. In 2005, shortly after celebrating his 50th birthday, Rob embarked on a new venture driven by a desire to give back to his homeland and make a meaningful impact. He sought to undertake a unique project that involved nurturing the land and contributing to the earth’s well-being. Rob was passionate about creating something authentically South African and truly exceptional.
Rob’s fondness for olive oil and his deep knowledge of trees played a pivotal role in shaping his vision. His mother, Beth Still, was a renowned landscape gardener and instilled in him a lifelong appreciation for the beauty of gardens, which he often explored during his childhood in various parts of Johannesburg.
To determine the ideal location for his olive farm, Rob commissioned a comprehensive study that examined soil conditions and various factors. The study pinpointed the Klein Karoo, with its combination of cold winters and warm summers, as the perfect environment for his olive trees. He had a personal connection to this region, having spent time as an army officer traversing the Swartberg mountains extensively.
Ultimately, Rob selected De Rust, nestled beneath the majestic Swartberg Mountains, where pristine mountain water flowed down and the slopes gently leaned inward.
In late 2006, he embarked on the planting of his olive orchards, acquiring both the Oude Muragie and Le Roux farms that now form the core of the estate. In 2008, he expanded his olive orchard holdings with the purchase of the Grootkruis properties.
Today, De Rustica Estate spans an impressive 125 hectares and has achieved the remarkable feat of producing the highest quality, world-class extra virgin olive oil in South Africa. Their dedication to quality and excellence has been recognised with numerous awards, solidifying their presence in the South African Olive Oil Industry.
Rob still takes immense pride in his estate and the dedicated De Rustica team. When you visit the farm, keep an eye out for Rob, who can often be found deep within the orchards, accompanied by his faithful Labrador. He meticulously inspects the pruning and takes moments to admire the striking red rocks that surround him, a testament to his enduring commitment to the land and his vision.
De Rustica Estate, strategically situated within the Klein Karoo region, enjoys Mediterranean-like conditions perfectly suited for the cultivation of premium olives. Complemented by a meticulous vernalization process and graced with well-drained, well-aerated soils, this estate is on a dedicated mission to establish a world-class olive industry.
The estate’s name pays homage to De Rust town and draws inspiration from the timeless agricultural manual, “De Re Rustica,” penned by Lucius Junius Moderatus Columella. It stands as a testament to a profound commitment to excellence.
Nestled amidst the picturesque Swartberg mountains, this hidden treasure has won numerous local and international awards for its exceptional extra virgin olive oil. In 2018, it earned the esteemed title of the Southern Hemisphere’s premier Olive Oil producer. Perhaps the pinnacle of its achievements was reached in 2023 when its Estate Collection Coratina garnered an impressive 97-point rating and was hailed as the world’s preeminent Olive Oil at the renowned EVOOEUM competition held in Spain.
In addition to its illustrious olive oil enterprise, the estate has cultivated a reputation for its exceptional Dohne Marino sheep, a testament to its unwavering commitment to upholding the highest standards of quality across all aspects of its operation.
De Rustica boasts an ideal climate with cool winters and hot summers, creating the perfect conditions for producing exceptional extra virgin olive oil. The estate has cultivated 125 hectares of olive trees, with different varieties at various stages of growth, and is expected to reach full production capacity by 2020. Their careful selection of Italian, Greek, and other olive cultivars is hand-picked and pressed on-site, ensuring the production of ultra-premium cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil.
The cultivars grown at De Rustica include:
Frantoio: Known for its balanced oil with a long shelf life, it is often used for elegant and delicate extra virgin olive oils.
FS17 (Favolosa): A unique varietal offering valuable agronomic characteristics, resulting in superb olive oil.
Nocellara: Hailing from south-western Sicily, it serves dual purposes for both oil and table olives.
Barnea: Widely grown in Israel and the Southern Hemisphere, this varietal has made its way to Northern California.
Koroneiki: Greece’s predominant varietal, found in many olive groves worldwide and known for its ancient origins.
Coratina: Predominantly found in Puglia, southern Italy, this varietal produces intense oil with high bitterness and pungency and strong aromas.
Arbequina: Originating in Catalonia, it has spread globally and is favoured for its nuanced notes, making it popular in the market.
Chemleli Sfax: Developed in Tunisia this cultivar is able to withstand warmer conditions than others and De Rustica is experimenting with its usage.
Kalamata: Named after the city in Greece, these large black or brown olives are meaty and suitable for table consumption.
De Rustica enjoys a distinctive micro-climate that is ideally suited for the cultivation and production of top-quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO). The farm enjoys pure mountain water and cold winters.
In addition, its altitude which ranges from 420m to 750m gives the Estate a daily temperature range that promotes tree health and olive quality.
The growth cycle of the olive trees is synchronised with the seasons, with significant phases primarily occurring during spring, summer, and autumn.
–September marks the initiation of bud development, ensuring the continual growth of olive trees.
–October witnesses the emergence of blossoms, leading to the eventual formation of olives through wind pollination.
-November to March, the olives mature, and harvesting typically commences in late March as they transition from green to purple.
-April to July, olives are hand-picked with great care using nets positioned beneath the trees and are then transported to the processing plant.
-April onwards, pruning takes place right after harvesting, employing both skilled labour and mechanical methods to encourage tree reproduction in the upcoming season.
De Rustica maintains a steadfast commitment to ongoing improvement, continuously refining methods, equipment, and standards to uphold its reputation for producing world-class EVOO.
The Olive Press
De Rustica prioritises freshness and quality by immediately pressing their olives to create their olive oils. They employ advanced technology, including an ALFA LAVAL press and stainless steel storage tanks, to maintain an optimal production environment.
Cleaning the Olives– Olives are washed to remove any impurities such as leaves and twigs.
Crushing the Olives– The olives are crushed into a paste, which facilitates the release of oil.
Malaxing the Paste– The paste is mixed in a temperature-controlled malaxer to allow small oil droplets to combine into larger ones. This ensures the production of cold-extracted extra virgin olive oil.
Separating Oil from Water and Solids – Centrifugation is used to separate the oil from other components of the olive. A two-stage decanter and a separator are employed for this purpose.
Storage- The oil is stored in stainless steel tanks, ensuring any remaining sediment and water are separated. It can be filtered and topped with nitrogen to prevent oxidation.
SA Olive has introduced the Commitment to Compliance (CTC) scheme to assure consumers purchasing South African Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO). For consumers, the CTC seal provides peace of mind by signifying:
100% South African Content: The producer guarantees that the product contains exclusively South African ingredients
Prominent Display of Harvest Year-The harvest year is prominently displayed, indicating the oil’s freshness.
Adherence to International Standards-The producer commits to upholding standards set in the SA Olive Codes of Practice, which align with international quality standards.
Honest Labelling-The label accurately represents the content, verifying that if it claims to be “Extra Virgin,” it indeed meets the Extra Virgin classification, with compliance to SA Olive tasting panel standards and specific criteria for fatty acid and peroxide values.
In terms of packaging:
Glass-To preserve oil quality and prevent oxidation, it is recommended to use darker glass colours such as amber, green, dark blue, or black over clear glass.
Bag in Box-This efficient packaging method stores olive oil in a specially coated aluminium bag within a cardboard carton, allowing easy extraction through a convenient tap system. Both bags and taps are designed and certified for use with olive oil.
PET-Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) has gained popularity in the olive oil retail market among plastics. Using 5L PET bottles is a cost-effective alternative to traditional 5L tin containers.
De Rustica Estate is deeply committed to benefiting the local community. We are dedicated to creating sustainable businesses that not only generate local wealth but also ensure long-term benefits for future generations.
We have implemented significant empowerment initiatives, including:
Regional Partner-Growers Extension Scheme: We act as a catalyst to encourage the development of small yet viable olive orchard growers in the region. This initiative supports local olive cultivation.
Additionally, we have made meaningful contributions to the community by renovating local community halls. These previously uninhabitable spaces now serve as essential meeting points for various community activities, including church gatherings, local meetings, creche services, and educational programmes.