You’ll first be drawn in by the robust, fresh, and grassy fragrance of American Vinegar Works’ newly released organic extra-virgin olive oil. The label tells you that the organic olives, a blend of Arbequina and Koroneiki, were picked in November, the most recent harvest. Its appeal is boosted by the mild flavor, full mouthfeel, and long peppery finish. The olives are cultivated on a single-family estate in California’s San Joaquin Valley and then cold-pressed.
“California is an ideal location for olive oil because of its climatic similarities to the Mediterranean region,” says founder Rodrigo Vargas, whose Worcester company produces artisanal vinegar for cooking and cocktails in a former mill building. Vargas sources ingredients from local farmers and foragers, and ferments the vinegar for months in wood barrels. He emphasizes the importance of place and terroir in his olive oil, just as he does with his vinegars.
“Even though we use Spanish and Greek olive varieties, because of where and how they are grown, they develop completely different flavor profiles that are uniquely Californian,” Vargas says. This may be his first foray into the business, but making olive oil is a family tradition. He grew up part-time in southern Portugal, where his father still looks after the family’s generations-old olive trees and creates small amounts of oil every year. “When I told my family in Portugal, I was launching a vinegar company, they immediately asked when I would be offering olive oil,” says Vargas. After all, they are a natural pair. “I resisted at first to focus on our vinegar, but at some point, you just have to listen to your mom’s advice,” he says. $28 for 16.9 ounces. Available at americanvinegarworks.com.
ANN TRIEGER KURLAND
Ann Trieger Kurland can be reached at email@example.com.