New, locally produced olive oil earns award

August 15, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
A family which has spent 90 years growing crops is now giving consumers a different taste of the Valley.

Organic olive oil being bottled in Madera was also grown and milled in the Valley. The olive oil is produced by long-time Valley grower PR Farms. The Enzo label honors Vincent Ricchiuti's great-grandfather Vincenzo.

Vincent Ricchiuti said, "It's super fresh whereas a lot of the stuff you get from your grocery stores from overseas, from Italy, Spain, Greece, Tunisia. It's going to be older. It's gonna be maybe a year or two years old."

A UC Davis study found three-fourths of imported olive oils marketed as extra virgin, or high quality and freshly pressed, were actually of poor quality.

Ricchiuti explained, "There's also cases of blending. They blend it with canola oil or they cut it with a different type of oil."

The Ricchiuti family saw olive oil as an emerging market so it planted 180 acres of olive trees while exiting a struggling stone fruit market.

Ricchiuti told Action News, "Only two-percent of our consumption is California or US olive oil and we thought that was a huge market that we could try to go after."

The family's first pressing produced 8,000 eight-thousand gallons of olive oil. The new product even won a silver medal from the California Olive Oil Council.

Ricchiuti said, "We're the new kid on the block and we're trying to do things the right way."

The oil is being sold at the family store Bella Fruita as well as Sam's Italian Deli. Vincent described the Enzo olive oil as grassy with a peppery kick, which is what we found during a taste test.


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