Calivirgin Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Calivirgin Extra Virgin Olive Oil is produced by Coldani Olive Ranch in Lodi, California. With a family history rich in the farming industry, they have managed to grow from the original crops of tomatoes, bell peppers, corn, and alfalfa for hay to also include olives. On land that has fertile soil fit for farming, we visit the Coldani family in what was once a barn that has been converted to a high-tech olive oil milling facility.
It All Started When…
Mike Coldani had a senior project while attending Cal Poly. What started out as a design for vineyards (Lodi is a very popular region for wines), quickly became olive groves. Realizing the area in which their family farm sits was already a prime location for either crop (grapes or olives), Mike decided to focus on a new farming practice for olive growing in California called Super High Density Groves.
In 2005, 40 acres of Arbequina and Koroneiki olive trees were planted in the super high density method of using framework similar to vineyards (wires and posts) to support the baby trees as they grow. Once they become mature fruit bearing trees, the olives are mechanically harvested. The olives are never touched by human hands or are allowed to fall to the ground that could potentially cause bruising or contamination of the fruit. The mechanical harvester is also a very quick method, allowing the fruit to be picked and milled within hours. Since the olive mill is on-site, it allows this process to happen seamlessly. No waiting around, no driving olives to another location, it all happens right here at the Coldani family estate.
Quickly realizing the potential of turning his senior project into a full blown business, Mike expanded the groves from 40 acres to 100 acres, adding other family members and friends to his plan as well. His sister Gina and his wife Julie run the day to day operations, handle the website orders and shipping, and are in charge of the marketing. His good friend Nick helps with the milling and bottling. His parents, Steve and Jeanne, offer their full support and their land to make this dream a reality. Mike shares the credit for starting the business saying, “I may have been the start of growing olive trees, but it wasn’t until we realized we had a lot of olive oil to sell that we pulled together as a family and turned a hobby into a career.” With a team built from family and friends, Calivirgin Extra Virgin Olive Oil has grown to become one of California’s top award winning producers.
Creating Calivirgin Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Wanting to create a recognizable brand yet making it clear what the product is, the Coldani family combined “California” and “Extra Virgin Olive Oil” to create “Calivirgin”. Seductive? A little. Catchy? Absolutely! And what about the logo? What is it exactly? The Coldani family wanted Calivirgin Extra Virgin Olive Oil to have a modern and sophisticated logo to stand out amongst other brands. Something that referenced the olive branch but softer and sexy, like a curve of a woman. With the help of a friend, they created their signature logo that sits upon a clear glass bottle that is also unique in its own right. The shape of the Calivirgin Extra Virgin Olive Oil bottle is different than the other brands you normally see on the shelves. They chose a bottle that is supposed to house liquor, not olive oil. Its round shape is stout, but the softness of their logo gives it balance, insinuating both masculine and feminine characteristics to appeal to all. They also have an opaque version of the same bottle that is white in color. Again, crossing boundaries in packaging design, the Calivirgin Extra Virgin Olive Oil bottle serves two purposes: 1) to catch your attention, and 2) to block light from entering the bottle, preserving the oil from deterioration.
Flavor Crush Oils vs. Infused
Although it wasn’t planned, this part of the business has worked in their flavor (pun intended). Using fresh produce from local area farmers, they decided to try the co-milling process of flavoring the olive oil using ingredients such as garlic, jalapeños, basil, rosemary, oregano, lemons, and Buddah’s hand. The barn is quickly filled with produce and herbs waiting for their turn to mix and mingle (literally) with the olives. Pressing at the same time allows the oils from the produce or herbs to blend in with the oil from the olives creating a delicious flavored oil. They do not use any scientific method of measurement but rather base their creation on taste. Nick will help Mike in the mill by tossing the fresh produce or herbs in with the olives keeping the flow consistent. The end result is a delicious blend of olive oil combined with the fresh flavor of produce or herbs that becomes what the Coldani family calls Calivirgin Flavor Crush Oils.
This is a topic that seems to cause confusion amongst most consumers, so we asked what the difference is between infused olive oil and Calivirgin Flavor Crush Oil. Here’s a quick summary:
Infused Olive Oil – After the oil has been processed, an extract or flavoring is added to give the oil it’s flavor. Another way to infuse oil is to submerge produce or herbs to the bottled oil and let the flavor of the ingredients enhance the flavor of the oil. Both result in a flavored oil. So what’s the problem with these methods? The first process of adding extracts or flavorings can sometimes taste artificial. The second method of submerging ingredients into the oil can result in a flavor so subtle, that you can barely taste it. Also, it is not recommended due to the fact that if it’s not done properly, moisture from the ingredients added can cause botulism. Yikes!
Flavor Crush Oils – Using the Agrumato Method of crushing the olives with the fresh produce at the same time (co-milling) creates the freshest flavor that tastes real because it uses real ingredients. It’s that simple.
It’s the Name of the Game
Lusty Lemon. Guilty Garlic. Hot Virgin Jalapeño. Oh, Oregano! These are names you will remember. The play on words and eye catching graphics on Calivirgin’s Flavor Crush Oil bottles can’t be missed. They’re fun and flirtatious and a little rebellious, dressed in black bottles with a bright pop of color showcasing what’s inside. Being the center of attention isn’t always a bad thing. As we all know, sexy sells.
Young at heart but years ahead of a business that is booming, Calivirgin Extra Virgin Olive Oil is setting trends. Their signature Calivirgin Extra Virgin Olive Oil (a blend of Arbequina and Koroneiki olives) won a Gold Award at the prestigious New York International Olive Oil Competition that was once dominated by imports. With judges tasting notes mentioning “aromas of ripe fruit, green leaves, lemon, grapefruit and notes of mint and flowers” and “sweetness with some bitterness, light pungency and notes of citrus, dry celery, thyme, with exceptional harmony” we could hardly wait to try.
Calivirgin Extra Virgin Olive Oil’s medals continue to grow adding Gold and Silver from the California Olive Oil Council as well. Their complete line of Flavor Crush Oils have all medaled in California’s Olive Oil Competitions (Central Coast, Los Angeles International Extra Virgin, Napa Valley Fair, and Yolo County Fair) winning Gold, Silver, and Best of Class.
We were fortunate enough to taste them all and although we are not tasting experts, we agree that Calivirgin Extra Virgin Olive Oils are amongst the best we’ve tried. But don’t just take our word for it. Calivirgin Extra Virgin Olive Oil has also been sought out by big name retailers like Williams-Sonoma, nominated for Oprah’s Favorite Things, and chosen by respected restauranteur Biba Caggiano to use in cooking her Italian fare. That’s impressive!
Amongst Family and Friends
The Coldani’s seem to have the magic to make things happen. They’re movers and shakers in the industry, however, when you meet them, you will feel like old friends. They stay true to their Italian heritage and believe family, friends, and hospitality is what life is all about. A good meal, a nice glass of wine, and of course Calivirgin Extra Virgin Olive Oil is always on their table.
You will be able to experience The Coldani’s hospitality too, as we were told Calivirgin Extra Virgin Olive Oil will be opening a tasting room soon! Spend an enjoyable day with the smiling faces of the Coldani family (they are always smiling) and share in their laughter. Taste their full line of Calivirgin Extra Virgin Olive Oils, delicious Dipping Spices, and Barrel-Aged Balsamic Vinegars imported from Modena, Italy. Can’t wait? Visit their website at www.calivirgin.com to purchase Calivirgin Extra Virgin Olive Oil directly or join the Olive Oil Club and have automatic shipments delivered to your door!
Grazie! to Mike, Gina, Julie, and Nick for an awesome tour and inviting us into the life of Calivirgin Extra Virgin Olive Oil!
Photographs taken by The Grove & Co. at Coldani Olive Ranch in Lodi, Ca.