Wim van der Plas planted the olives in 2004, and as the olive trees yielded fruit, so the learning processes began. Investing in an Italian press, the first oils were pressed in 2009. The olives from Ruheleben are popular with the locals and used in many of the restaurants. Green and black olives are handpicked and sorted for the curing and bottling process. It’s a long process which is very labour intensive, with the emphasis on quality.
The hardy olive seems to thrive in these desert conditions of heat, intense light and dry air. They can even withstand the blisteringly hot East winds in winter, which come hurtling down the desert plains to the coast, gathering heat and dust on the way down. Ruheleben olives are stored in separate tanks by cultivar which can be blended to taste or be bottled as separate cultivars because the flavours range from mild to quite peppery burning the back of the throat. The cultivars are Mission, L177, Lucino, Frontoio, Coratina and Manzanella.