The Story of Tierney Lane
Tierney Lane olive oil is produced on a small olive grove in Tierney Lane, about 7km north of Mudgee in Central West NSW. The name comes from John Tierney, a school teacher, who lived on the property in the late 1800s. He taught at nearby Eurunderee Public School, and his most famous student was the poet Henry Lawson. The current house was built on the foundations of John Tierney’s house and includes the original cellar.
The olive grove is independently run by myself, Peter, and my wife, Mandy. We purchased the property in 2016 and introduced ecological principles to manage the land. After a steep learning curve, and a few harvests that produced enough for domestic supply only, we came to market in 2021 with our first full commercial harvest of beautiful olive oil.
Our olive grove contains two closely related Italian varieties, Frantoio and Correggiola. Frantoio is the most important variety grown in Tuscany, so our oil is similar in style to Tuscan extra virgin olive oil.
We were excited to win a Bronze medal in 2021 from the Australian International Olive Awards in the Italian varietal section – our first competition entry.
Our olives are handpicked using hand held shakers and rakes by a loyal group of family and friends, with a couple of great local farm labourers helping out when needed. We start picking around ANZAC Day (25 April), and continue for about a month, working every day. We aim to get a good ratio and mix of green (the unripe) and purple (the ripe) olives as this balance strongly influences the flavour of the oil. The olives are stored in our cool room for no longer than 48 hours and transported to a local press in batches where they are cold pressed. It is a wonderful feeling to drive home with tanks of lovely fresh pure oil which was literally on the tree 2 days ago. Tierney Lane olive oil is certified by the Australian Olive Association as extra virgin which means it meets criteria of the highest grade and has been sensory tested.
Our approach to farming is influenced by regenerative principles. Peter has a PhD in integrating agriculture and the environment and is a board member of the Institute for Ecological Agriculture, as well as being part of the team from the Institute that set up the degree in Regenerative Agriculture at Southern Cross University. We aim to improve the environment by maintaining and enhancing biodiversity, encouraging natural nutrient cycling, and maximising carbon capture by photosynthesis. We nurture the native grassland in the grove, which provides 100% ground cover in all but the driest seasons, and is a haven for wildlife.
The grassland is biodiverse with many species of native grasses and herbs. We don’t cultivate or use any herbicides, and we chip the olive tree prunings and return them to the soil as mulch. We only slash the grassland after the grasses have set their seed, and only if it is essential to reduce fuel load or allow better harvest access. Leaf testing has revealed our soil has no deficiencies, so we know our methods are working. These practical methods bring together all the principles that Peter has studied, researched and taught.
“The grove is home to spiders and beneficial insects, 100s of birds, shingleback lizards, wombats, echidnas, eastern grey kangaroos and wallabies.”
We love being able to provide a haven for little birds which have suffered in the modified landscapes of big trees, lawns or closely grazed pastures. Our olive grove, with its numerous wattle trees, surrounding bushland and dense grassland, provides excellent habitat for native birds. Here is a list of some of the small birds we have seen in our grove, with links to Birdlife Australia:
Until recently, our grove was Certified Organic (NASAA). We decided not to maintain this certification as our olives would have needed to be pressed by an organically certified press, of which there is none in our area. In addition, organic methods weren’t effective at controlling Olive Lace Bug, our most prevalent insect pest. We do all we can to control insect pests through careful pruning and encouraging insect and bird diversity, but when Olive Lace Bug infestations are severe, the trees suffer and can drop all their leaves. We monitor the bug population, use organically approved pyrethrum and use a synthetic pyrethroid only when it is vital.
“We hope you enjoy our beautiful olive oil.”
We would like to thank everyone who has contributed to this adventure.
We hope you have enjoyed the process as much as we have.
– Peter and Mandy
Frequently Asked Questions
In this chapter, we try and answer all those burning questions regarding olive oil, its production and its storage.
Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) is the oil extracted from olives, usually within a day of picking them. The olives are pressed without the addition of any chemicals or heat, ensuring that all the nutrients including natural antioxidants and flavours are maintained. In Australia, all extra virgin olive oils have been objectively tested to meet strict quality and flavour standards.
Our olive oil is only produced from olives grown and harvested from our farm on Tierney Lane near Mudgee. We do not use olives from different origins. In this way we can maintain strict quality control of our oil, and can guarantee that it has been produced in an environmentally sustainable way.
The best way to store olive oil is to keep it in a dark and cool place. Always put the lid back on after use. Exposure to light and air causes the oil to lose its fresh flavour. Try to consume the oil within a few months of opening the container to ensure the best taste.
A good Tuscan-style olive oil should taste fresh and fruity. It should have a peppery feeling in the back of your mouth. The aroma should be fresh with no ‘industrial’ smell, and it should not have an “artificial” or chemical aftertaste.
No. We think the quality of our olive oil is so high and is best-enjoyed pure and simple.
You can use our oil in salads, on bread or toast, and for frying in dishes where you would like the olive oil flavour. It would be a waste to use our oil for deep frying. We love it best poured over freshly cooked pasta so you can smell the rich olive aroma and taste the fresh peppery flavour.
No, we are regenerative – we are managing our grove to regenerate the landscape. This means we encourage native grassland under our trees. This is what nature does best – provides biodiversity, soaks up carbon from the atmosphere, provides natural nutrients and protects and nourishes the soil. We do not use any herbicides. We monitor insect pests, and if we have to, we spray carefully with a safe product.