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Juno and Dali also succeed

GRANT HARDING
grant.harding@age.co.nz

It’s official – Wairarapa’s Loopline Olives are one of the world’s elite olive oil makers.

On Saturday [NZ time] the Masterton company learned that its Loopline Picholine had been awarded a gold medal at the New York International Olive Oil Competition [NYIOOC].

The competition is the world’s largest and most prestigious olive oil contest and its annual listing of award winners is considered the authoritative guide to the year’s best extra virgin olive oils.

The Loopline Picholine had previously won Best in Show at the 2018 New Zealand Extra Virgin Olive Oil Awards, the third occasion – 2014 and 2017 the others – that the company had taken out that award.

While the NYIOOC award is testimony to the vision and hard work of Mark and Kate Bunny, the benefit of the accolade will be harvested by the new owner of Loopline Olives, who took over the business just over two weeks ago.

The Bunnys had worked the Opaki grove of approximately 900 trees, established in 2001, for the past decade.

Kate Bunny said she had missed the livestream announcement of the award, a first for the company.

“The new person is just going to be able to ride on this legacy of excellence particularly in taste and quality,” she said. “But it’s our oil, us who harvested it. Hopefully they’re going to take it to the next level.”

She said since the company won Best in Show at the New Zealand awards in 2014 they had been on the radar of contacts worldwide. However, this weekend’s award was something different.

Award winners will be listed in the NYIOOC’s official Index of the World’s Best Olive Oils and many will be available through the Best Olive Oils Marketplace, the online portal where buyers can source the winning oils from retailers and distributors who stock them.

That would offer worldwide exposure on a scale not achieved before.

“This will be just amazing,” she said.

New owner, Stephen Davies Howard said, with a laugh, “I won’t take credit for it”.

He said, when he was buying the business, he was told about the entry in the awards.

“Never in a million years would I have thought we would win gold on a global stage. I’m delighted. Kate and Mark have done an excellent job here.”

But the good news for Wairarapa olive oil makers didn’t end there, with both Greytown’s Juno Olives and Martinborough’s Dali receiving silver awards.

Juno collected two – one for Juno Picual, which was Best Boutique at the New Zealand 2018 Extra Virgin Olive Oil Awards, and the other for Juno Koroneiki, which was Reserve Best Boutique at the New Zealand 2018 Extra Virgin Olive Oil Awards.

Dali was recognised for Dali Frantoio, which was Best in Class at the New Zealand 2018 Extra Virgin Olive Oil Awards.

Gayle Sheridan, executive officer for Olives New Zealand said, “the results at the New York Competition show that New Zealand Extra Virgin Olive Oil is on par with the best in the world”.

“With almost a thousand entries it is fantastic to see New Zealand entries continue on the success of previous years. Congratulations to the 2019 New Zealand winners, all from Wairarapa.”

An international panel of experts evaluated more than 900 olive oils over five days before the NYIOOC awards were made.

Best in Class awards went to oils from Italy, Spain, Australia, Chile, Uruguay, Tunisia, Croatia, Portugal and Brazil.