Not all olive oil is created equal, and Greek-Australian sisters Katianna and Yianna Velos learned this firsthand, having grown up drizzling their family’s liquid gold over nearly every meal. After each summer spent exploring a quaint 50-person village on the Mani peninsula, where the Velos family owned property covered in 500-year-old olive trees, the sisters would cart back litres of oil back to Melbourne to last them until their next trip. It wasn’t until 2021 — while enduring one of the longest lockdowns in the world — that Katianna and Yianna decided it was time to share their family’s bounty with the world and launched Golden Groves.
When you can get a litre of olive oil from Coles for just $11, paying $36 for a 750ml bottle may seem steep. But according to Katianna, the difference in taste and quality is enormous. “Many olive oils you find on the shelves at supermarkets are adultered and mixed with cheap seed oils,” says Katianna. “Or they may in fact be rancid, as the date of harvest may not be listed and you could be consuming oil that is many years old.”
In comparison, the Golden Groves olive oil is made entirely from one variety of olive that has been harvested from one grove of centuries-old olive trees along the Mani Peninsula, an arid region offering ideal growing conditions for the olives. These variables offer a higher quality control standard and a higher concentration of flavour. The olives are also harvested early and cold-pressed to retain optimal levels of polyphenols and antioxidants, and the resulting oil is quickly bottled and imported to ensure that it’s as fresh as possible.
“We remember the year that we helped harvest the olives, and the sheer amount of work that goes into handpicking the fruit is enormous,” says Katianna. “To say that producing your own olive oil is a labour of love is an understatement, and we’re immensely grateful to have access to such a special commodity.”
If you’ve just been using olive oil for salad dressings or pan-frying, Yianna encourages you to experiment a bit. Try drizzling it on an ice cream sundae, using it as a dip for fresh, warm bread or using a glug of oil to fry your favourite fish. “We go through approximately two to three litres of olive oil a week in our household,” says Yianna. “It’s not an oil that we reserve for special occasions or garnishing, and we believe that you should eat well and derive pleasure from every meal.”
After launching their brand, Yianna and Katianna were taken aback by the overwhelmingly positive response to the oil, not only in Melbourne but across Australia and internationally. Spurred on by this success, Golden Groves quickly expanded into the realm of caviar and began offering tins of premium-grade river beluga roe. And while food is the cornerstone of the brand, the sisters also want Golden Groves to serve as an opportunity to share other aspects of their heritage and identity, including the recent addition of silk sarongs and future products in the lifestyle space.
You can shop the full range of Golden Groves products, including olive oil, caviar and sarongs, through the website.
Want to learn more about Melbourne’s fascinating Greek-Australian history? Read the story behind our city’s Greek precinct.