In 1997, Mike Burston and Carol Kunert bought a 240 ha property at gorgeous Myrrhee in the King Valley, planting it with 25 ha of walnuts. While numbers of people were moving into walnuts at the time, not as many are still producing, even though Australia's overall production has increased. 25 years is a serious commitment of time: enough to develop skills, customers and artisan quality.
King Valley Walnuts has recently doubled its original orchard which is located along Fifteen Mile Creek, so things are trending well.
Carol and Mike are also excited that they've just been announced as medal winners at both the Royal Sydney Fine Food Awards and the Royal Tasmanian Fine Food Awards 2022. These national competitions discover Australia’s best fine food producers with winners selected by a judging panel of industry experts.
“Our Tamari Walnuts won gold at Royal Sydney Fine Food Awards and our Walnut Butter won a silver medal at Royal Tasmania Fine Food Awards," said Carol.
"In what has been a ghastly year with a very poor harvest, everyone was feeling very disappointed. Wet weather brought particular challenges and with the small amount of nuts that we had available, we concentrated on making the best of what we had, including value-adding to our products. The Tamari Walnuts and Walnut Butter are recent additions to our range and are made in our farm kitchen,” said Michael.
Australia produces 14,500 tonnes of walnuts, with just 1000 tonnes of this from Victoria. 13,000 tonnes are from NSW and 500 from SA and WA combined. It you think that sounds like a lot, consider California's 2020 harvest of 712,000 tonnes, or China's 1,100,000 tonnes!
This Saturday you can find King Valley Walnuts at Gasworks Farmers' Market in Albert Park. Eat more nuts! Eat Victorian!