In 2005, about 6 months after Tania and her husband Keith von Barkenhagen moved to Cortona, they experienced their first olive harvest. That moment would change how they looked at olive oil forever.
The freshly pressed extra virgin olive oil they tasted at the mill was so completely different to any olive oil they had used in the past that it almost seemed like a different product. In fact, freshly pressed, extra virgin olive oil has a spicy, nutty flavour which has little to do with anything you will find in your local grocery store. Determined to introduce this amazing – and healthy – product to Americans, they embarked on a new enterprise.
In 2006, they tried a test shipment for friends and family which was met with such enthusiasm, they were sold out in just over a week. That started the hunt for the perfect olive oil to bring back to the United States on a regular basis.
It took them four years to find it! In Tuscany, a lot of the olive oil produced is made on a small scale and largely for home consumption, but after a long search they found a local farmer who farmed organically, harvested early, and worked with trees that dated back to 800 A.D. A match made in heaven and the start of L’Arte dell’Olivo the company they set up to export authentically produced extra virgin olive oil to the States.
That first harvest, air shipped back to the USA, garnered many rave reviews and also landed them a Silver award in the Los Angeles International Extra Virgin Olive Oil competition.
In 2011, in order to complement their production of olive oil, they visited Modena to check out the balsamic vinegars. They ended up tasting over 200 different examples.
They finally found a family in Modena who had been crafting balsamics, with traditional methods, for over a 100 years. The family was willing to work with them and also happy to help them create their own very special blends and flavours. Their flavored white balsamic vinegars, aged for 4 years in oak barrels and presented in beautiful designed glass jars, were unique to the market and an overnight success.
The ethos at L'Arte dell'Olivo is to bring back to the States fresh, authentic foods from Italy. This couldn’t have been done without Tania and Keith’s passion for the genuine article.
If you’re planning a trip to Italy, you might like to consider a trip to Cortona and a personalised tasting with Tania herself. If you’d like to know more, visit her website at www.lartedellolivo.com