Nick and Brenda

How it all started

Nick & Brenda’s Story

Where does one start to share the journey? A journey of two folks that discovered an amazing product and just wanted to share it!

It all started way back in 2010 when Nick and Brenda had decided to leave Central Africa where they had lived for 20 years. They left South Africa in 1990 in search of a two-year adventure and ended up having a thorough adventure, not for two years but twenty, working for international corporate agriculture in both Malawi and Zambia. Nick proved his prowess time and again in the agricultural field in Central Africa, being CEO of one of the biggest farms in Africa, and now was ready to take it on for himself.

“Nick is a Chartered Accountant from South Africa who makes sense of the numbers in agriculture, and we never suspected for a minute that he would take on the production of extra virgin olive oil as he did. We were virgin olive oil connoisseurs and bought, as most consumers do, choosing a pretty bottle!” explains Brenda.

Nick was told by his doctor to have more olive oil in his diet and this farm was for sale. It was serendipity at its best. He is now a Master Miller from UC DAVIS and loves every minute of the production of extra virgin olive oil – and it shows!

Liquid Gold in the Making

The Harvest of 2010

After the harvest, Nick took all the oils processed and sat for hours blending the various tastes; much like a winemaker would do. He entered this oil into the SA Olive Association Awards and won a Double Gold, the first ever awarded, as they had said that no other oil had ever tasted that good and the aroma of freshly cut grass just blew you away on opening the bottle. “Nick was elated although it meant very little to anyone else, as so few folks even knew what is involved in the production of award-winning olive oil. We expected everyone to come to the estate in search of this liquid gold, but alas, no one did!”

So began their journey, a journey they have both passionately followed since that day. Nick, with the help of his amazing staff, oversees the farm practices that ensure top yields in the lands. They have 18 000 trees on the banks of the Breede River, with irrigation on demand. The trees are pruned after every harvest and fed with the bountiful compost which is created on the estate to put more back into the soil than is taken out. The trees start to blossom around October and November and they harvest from the end of February to August each year, depending on the size of the crop.

Nick has always seen the bigger picture in agriculture and he had commissioned the top producer in Italy, Giorgio Mori, to install a state-of-the-art production plant on their estate. Giorgio taught Nick how to make more magic and followed him closely via cameras linked to Italy until he had mastered everything he needed to know. Nick works tirelessly and with passion each harvest, with Jonathan at his side. The two of them take on early mornings, and long nights, and only close up after the last olive picked that day has been crushed and the machinery thoroughly cleaned for the next day’s startup.

Handpicked Goodness

Quality Picking & Processing

The olives are handpicked off the trees and taken to the shed as soon as possible after picking, allowing Nick to process them at their best. There are four cultivars grown on the estate – Coratino, Leccino, Frantoio, and FS17. The varieties are all originally from Italy. The olives are processed with mechanical machinery by the cultivar and stored in stainless steel tanks by the cultivar, too. The oil is stored under liquid nitrogen to preserve the freshness and we only pack on order. They often joke saying that they produce the best “Italian” olive oil in South Africa!

They pack in innovative “bag in decanters”, on tap. This preserves the quality of the olive oil allowing it to stay fresh till the last drop. The decanters have been designed especially for Rio Largo and have become collectors’ items. They have over 40 designs in their catalogue but also share their oil in bottles of various sizes.

At the end of every harvest, the oils are tested for compliance by the SA Olive Association. Each oil is tested by an independent laboratory and tasted by a professional tasting panel to receive a sticker of compliance which is then applied to each receptacle sold. It states the year of harvest too – the EVOO is best within two years of picking that fruit. (Few oils on the shelf state the actual year of the harvest!)

International acclaim

The oils are also sent off to various competitions across the globe. 

Nick and Brenda have learned to choose a few competitions, as once you have one award for that harvest that should be the yardstick by which you judge your oils and stand proudly behind them. They feel it is more important for their standards than boast appeal but have even won Best in Class in New York one year. It was incredible.  A South African Olive Oil from a tiny estate won the best trophy in its class!!! Added to this is an award from Flos Olei Italy – the Best Medium Blend for 2022/23! Imagine that! Rio Largo was awarded a top award straight out of Italy – the home of olive oils!

Another great award was the Children’s Award in France in 2020, which was just what Nick and Brenda needed to hear. The oil is so delicious and the children told them so! They usually enter competitions in New York, Japan, Europe, and South Africa. That gives them a fair idea of where they stand on the world stage, and assures you from East to West, that Rio Largo is the best! Nick has consistently won awards for the oils he produces, both locally and internationally since 2010 – Proudly local and internationally recognized.

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So, why do they do this?

Why do they take so much care from tree to table?

“Well, first of all, it is such an amazing product! The health benefits are really something to embrace. Honestly, one feels the difference when using quality extra virgin olive oil. It protects against breast and prostate cancers, lowers blood pressure and cholesterol, helps fight osteoporosis, prevents strokes and dementia, strengthens the immune system, acts as an anti-inflammatory, and fights diabetes. And it works!”

It also adds amazing taste to any dish cooked and yes, you can fry with extra virgin olive oil, and Nick and Brenda do! Try drizzling it over your roast potatoes next time, if you don’t believe them. The ideas are endless in the kitchen and being a healthy fat, one uses it liberally in any dish. We all know the Mediterranean diet is supreme of all diets and they use lashings of olive oil, even taking a spoonful every morning before breakfast. And it works!


Nick and Brenda are involved in all aspects of the process.

Nick took on the production and management role but will also help with packing, invoicing, and deliveries if need be! Brenda is involved in marketing, deliveries, and collections as well as general “do it all “ and she makes a mean cup of coffee to keep everyone going! They love being involved in all aspects of the business, from tree to table, and it is a privilege for them to be able to deliver this liquid gold to their customers; it is a joy sharing it with them.

Wow! A real gift of health!

Why should folks choose this amazing product above all that is available on the shelf?

First of all, look at the attention to detail from tree to table. Nothing is left to chance and every aspect of this fresh product is taken into account.

We all know how fresh orange juice is produced, how to care for it once squeezed, and how much more we enjoy it for its taste and health benefits. Knowing that we pay more for it – it is even in a special area of the stores or found only in health stores. It is stored in fridges or on ice to preserve its quality. It is a product we treasure!

“We are not the ‘cordial’ which is really sugar-flavoured water! You know what you get when you buy that ‘orange cordial’; you know it will be cheaper because it is not made from real fruit! You know it will not taste like the real deal as it is made from processed products to taste like orange juice, but it is not fresh orange juice and will never be passed off as such. Storage of that cordial is basic too, any shelf, anywhere for however long! Cordials are not stored in the same area as the fresh product. The consumer is aware of that and knows why. They make informed choices when they buy either the fresh product or the cordial.

Extra virgin olive oil is the “brother” of that fresh orange juice! And it should be embraced as such!

Rio Largo is made from fresh olives which are crushed via mechanical means; the juice of which is the oil. Nothing is added or taken away during the process. It is stored accordingly in dark glass bottles or on tap decanters to preserve the quality. It should not be stored in a fridge, however, as it causes the oil to go cloudy. It should be stored away from sunlight and heat. It should stand alone to give it the status it deserves – a world-class product produced on South African soils, handpicked, personally processed, and stored in innovative decanters.

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