Victorian olive grove seeks buyer looking to expand

Esmond Olives which has 12,000 olive trees is currently on the market. Picture:
Esmond Olives which has 12,000 olive trees is currently on the market. Picture:

A Victorian olive grove that backs onto the idyllic Ovens River is currently for sale, offering potential buyers an escape from city living plus the opportunity to expand the business.

Situated over 220km northeast of Melbourne, Esmond Olives is a 12,000 tree olive grove, which was set up by two Italian brothers 20 years ago.

Drawing on their family backgrounds and best industry practice, the siblings established the successful grove, which is now characterised by Corregiola, Frantoia and Luccino trees, of which there are about 10,000. The remaining trees are table-type olives including: Kalamata, Jumbo and Manzanilla.

Elders Real Estate selling agent Dave Colvin said there is a trend towards people buying rural businesses as a way to escape metropolitan living.

“We find that lot of people want to get out of capital cities and are interested in a lifestyle business that can be run as a commercial enterprise,” Mr Colvin said.

The grove will appeal to an agribusiness entrepreneur, investor, investment syndicate, or a family he said.

The property is up made up of two titles and includes an olive grove plus limited onsite accommodation and oil processing equipment. Picture:

Esmond Olives is a rural enterprise corner property held as two freehold titles which can be bought as a whole for $3,000,000 or individually.

“Effectively everything is in place to operate the grove with an oil production level at its current rate, but it is ready for expansion”, Mr Colvin said.

All infrastructure and services, including a processing centre with a recognised Alfa Laval olive press, materials handling and tank storages are situated on the second 40ha block known as 33 Chapel Lane. There is an opportunity for expansion to create farm-style accommodation or onsite nature camping with approval for short-term accommodation at the rear of the property.

The front 31ha block at 3550 Wangaratta-Yarrawonga Road is unimproved and offers main road exposure. Its red loam soil is ideal for growing fruit and vegetables and there is the opportunity to add a farm gate/cellar door.

Located in Moira Shire, the property has significant water resources including a 65-metre deep licensed bore equipped with an electric pump and filtration system with a 100 megalitre groundwater licence and it comfortably delivers the annual grove needs of about 50 megalitres of irrigation water. It also contains a five megalitre high reliability water licence and a fourteen megalitre low reliability water licence from the Ovens River and lagoons at the rear of the holding.

The current owner has held the property for nine years and lives on-site seasonally in dormitory-style accommodation. Situated inside the processing building, there’s a kitchen, bathroom and septic toilet facilities.

The property is in close proximity to tourist areas, Yarrawonga, Bundalong and Rutherglen wineries and just a 20-minute drive from Wangaratta.

“The location is excellent – it’s just five minutes away from Bundalong township, which attracts Melbourne holiday tourists right on the Murray River and Ovens Junction,” Mr Colvin said.

The olive industry is experiencing growth

Prior to the pandemic in 2018-2019, olive growers in Australia exported $16.5 million worth of produce to markets in Spain, the US, Japan, China and New Zealand with olive oil making up 96% of the exports, according to the not-for-profit national biosecurity agency Plant Health Australia.

Michael Southan, CEO of Australian Olive Association says now is a great time for interested buyers to purchase an olive grove.

“This year the olive industry is going through a bit of a boom,” Mr Southan said. “2021 has been a record production year for olives and extra olive oil production. We’ve seen the largest production of extra virgin olive oil in Australia.”

The new owners could add a farm door facility on site to expand the existing business. Picture:

He attributes this to the drought easing and the way COVID has changed the hospitality industry.

“We’ve seen a reduction in service use for olive oil, because restaurants have had to close, so people have been more focused on their own health and have been embracing a Mediterranean diet,” he said.

Olive grove owner and operator Rita Bikins, of Red Rock Olives, located near the Grampians, is part of the eat local movement and said despite the difficulties of the last year due to COVID, her business has remained steady.

“It’s a little bit pandemic proof in that people need good food and they need it locally,” Ms Bikins said.

She attributes part of Red Rock’s success to running an online business where she sells, extra virgin olive oil, artisan vinegar and table olives. But admits that having a farm door on the property allowed her to build relationships with customers.

“The interaction we have with our customers enables us to value-add to our products so we can go ahead with the packaging and labeling aspect with confidence.”

“Dealing with customers face-to-face makes you highly attuned to satisfying their needs. I would definitely encourage it,” she said.

The property has an olive press and processing equipment. Picture:

And with wholesale prices for olive oil of proven quality now at around $6 a litre, the Esmond Grove will suit a someone seeking reliable cash flow.

“The market is buoyant at the moment so it’s a good time to sell,” Mr Southan said.

He encourages anyone interested in running an olive grove to consider purchasing one.

“You don’t need to come from an agricultural background to learn about olives, but you do need to be prepared to learn. It’s an industry that’s very open for new entrants. And there are a lot of people out there willing to help,” Mr Southan said.