While predicting your future isn't as easy as looking in a magic glass ball, there are signs along the way that give us direction. Every choice we make has a consequence. Our choice to buy a vacation home in Italy turned to something more. Our involvement within our Italian Commune at Torre di Palme led to meeting new and interesting people. Our desire to stay connected to Oregon and to bridge our Italian life naturally evolved from our interests and experience. As relationships developed, so did opportunity. Olio e Vino, Oil and Wine; natural partners, the perfect duo.
As we worked through the Thanksgiving weekend with our Italian producers on preparing Casal Cristiana Extra Virgin Olive Oil for shipment to the United States, it was reminiscent of years past. Both Michel and I had simple childhoods, growing up in the country, tending to farm animals and gardens, preparing fresh food and always working, with some sort of job. For Michel, in the early days of Ponzi Vineyards, Thanksgiving weekend was laborious in many ways, preparing the product for sale and then selling it onsite at the family winery when it started more than 40 years ago. This last week in Italy, Michel coordinated jobs for his sons Marco and Luca at the olive mill ... it was dejavu. As we were hand labeling, strapping boxes together, bubble wrapping bottles, he was recanting the days when he was young, and he was helping his parents with the crazy of idea of growing wine grapes and making wine in the wild open spaces of Oregon. Life has a way of coming full circle and with many parallels with our current life and the memories of our past, we chuckled a bit as we convinced Marco and Luca it would be fun to help us bottle, label and box olive oil in a remote region in Italy! Crazy or not, we are grateful for the experiences we had when we were young, with our parents and siblings. Bringing an idea to reality is never easy. Often it takes more than hard work, it takes knowledge and experience. For Michel, after spending his entire life with his enterprising family and several successful businesses, entrepreneurship is in his blood. Being at the inception Bridgeport Brewing, Ponzi Vineyards, and The Dundee Bistro he knows the ups and downs when it comes to creating, branding, bottling, packaging, and selling a new product. It is nearly second nature.....he knows what it takes. But a sixth sense is necessary. The movement for accessibility of authentic extra virgin olive oil is growing as people travel more, surf the web for health information and seek real experiences, such as gourmet food and wine, instead of virtual entertainment.
We are also aware that a business is not only made up of numbers, but a great business is comprised with passion, care and human dynamics ... the people you work with make a difference. Our growers and production team, Roberto and Francesco Traini, are brothers and together with their spouses and children, we have collaborated on the Casal Cristiana project. We share similar family values, business viewpoints, success, and quality control specifications. We are grateful to be aligned with this family as we propel forward towards educating Americans about high quality, true extra virgin olive oil. This week we had the fortune of having a group of olive oil experts tour the production facility and specifically taste Casal Cristiana Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oil. About a dozen tasting experts, considered to be the sommeliers of olive oil, were on hand to taste for quality and they were very impressed, citing that the oil was exceptionally clean and fresh tasting. It is exactly what we were striving for! It was a great complement when they asked to take a bottle of our oil with them because they liked it so much! Usually extra virgin olive oil is a blend, but after tasting several combinations, we decided that our premier bottling of Casal Cristiana Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oil would be a monovarietal of the Frantoio olive. Looks like it was a good decision and again, we are grateful.
Today, with all our boxes now ready for shipment, we wait for it's arrival to the U.S. We are still taking orders online on our website and Founding Members for our olive oil club Viva Verde, are invited to our premier release party at Ponzi Vineyards, in Oregon, on January 12th to taste the oil for the very first time. So, between now and then, I will be busy in the kitchen, testing recipes to share using Casal Cristiana Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oil. This morning, it was an apple tart with white fig and grappa glaze. Stay tuned for new ideas in using olive oil -- your taste buds and health will be grateful!