Olive Oil Tasting at Sciabica’s California Olive Oil in Modesto

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My family and I had the great pleasure of visiting the Sciabica Gift Shop in Modesto, California a few days ago for some olive oil tasting and a quick tour of the olive groves. (Yes, yes, I know I should be resting up from having a baby.. but I’m so stir crazy!!)
I had reached out to the Sciabica family requesting the opportunity to review their product a few weeks ago, and was delighted to receive a sample of some of their flavored oils. Some of you know I am HUGE extra virgin olive oil fan. Between the health benefits and the taste, it’s what I primarily cook with. I have a few “favorite brands”, but after doing some Google searching / researching of brands closer to home, I was extremely interested in trying Sciabica’s.
Sciabica’s caught my eye because their award winning olive oils are GMO Free, cold pressed and locally grown. All of their 100% Extra Virgin California Olive Oils are unrefined and contain no imported olive oil, chemicals, artificial colorings or preservatives. And being cold pressed, the olive oils retain all of their flavor, aroma, and nutritional value. Win, win, and yet more win!
Additionally, the Sciabica family produces the undisputed oldest continuously produced California Olive Oil available today.

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About the Sciabica Family Olive Oils

From the Sciabica Olive Oil website:
In 1887 Nicola (Nick) Sciabica was born in Marsala, Sicily. As a young man he learned the ancient art of producing olive oil in the mills of Castelvetrano in the province of Trapani, a very famous olive and olive oil production region on the island. In 1911 he immigrated to the United States. Nicola settled and started a family in Waterbury Connecticut. Still, Nicola long desired the Mediterranean climate, and was told that he would find what he was looking for in California. However, upon arrival in San Francisco he was met with a little disappointment, as it was summer time and he expected a bit warmer climate. He eventually came to Modesto, California in 1925 with his wife and their 3 sons, and he fell in love. Nick said, “This is like home.”
The Sciabica Family began farming a small grape vineyard in Modesto that year, not for wine, but to sell fresh for wine making. During prohibition, our customers were allowed to make a small amount of wine for personal use. It was there, with the knowledge that Nicola brought from olive oil making in Sicily, in 1936 that they began the production of Marsala® Brand Olive Oil (named after his birthplace) which is the undisputed oldest continuously produced California Olive Oil available today. The family still resides, farms and produces olive oil on the original land today.
Through the years, the efforts of Nicola, his children, grandchildren and great-granchildren have made the Sciabica Family’s olive oil unmatched in quality and flavor. Joseph Sciabica, who headed the family operation for 74 years, would always say, “You can’t beat experience.”

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In the late 80’s the Sciabica family began keeping olive varietals separate all the way to the bottle (just like wines). For over 30 years they have been offering their single varietal olive oils under the Sciabica’s® label. More recently, they have expanded their line to include Fresh Pressed Unfiltered olive oils and “Fresh Flavored” olive oils, which are made fresh in the presses by sending Lemons, Oranges, Jalapeños, Basil, Garlic, Rosemary, Limes or Habaneros with the olives through the presses. Just 2 ingredients – no artificials or heat infusion.
Today, Nicola’s grandsons Nick and Daniel, and great-grandson Jonathan, carry on the Sciabica tradition of California olive oil production, the way Nicola did over 7 decades ago. They are committed to offering unique and exciting new products that live up to the quality and consistency that many have come to expect from the Sciabica Family.

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Our Experience Olive Oil Tasting at Sciabica’s

So I mentioned that Sciabica’s sent us some flavored olive oils to try out and review (and I’ll share more about those below!). But with my mother-in-law in town visiting her brand new granddaughter Thyme (she is a huge olive oil fan as well), and me being stir crazy to get out of the house, we decided to make the two hour drive from Visalia and drop by the Sciabica Gift Shop in Modesto for some olive oil tasting.
Even though we stopped by rather unexpectedly, Jonathan Sciabica was very welcoming and walked us through the many olive oil varieties they offer. As much of a foodie as I am, I had never been olive oil tasting before, so it was quite exciting! (Olive oil tasting is kind of like wine tasting, except without the hoity toity atmosphere and exaggerated slurping.)
Even Tessa got in on the olive oil tasting action!! Once we’d sip on an olive oil variety, Tessa would reach for and nom up the remainder of the oil in the tasting cup. (She wasn’t sure if she liked the vinegar tasting though! hehehe…)

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As mentioned above, most olive oils are a blend of multiple types of olive varieties. While Sciabica offers olive oil blends, they also offer the individual, pure olive varieties. (Just as there are different types of grapes and different types of tomatoes, there are different types of olives.) I had never before tasted individual olive oil varieties so it was quite the educational culinary experience! From buttery Mission olive oil to peppery Arbosano, to smooth and full flavored Sevillano, the flavors were so distinct and unique it was amazing to think that such a broad flavor profile could all fall under the vague and all-encompassing title of “olive oil”.
In addition to the olive varieties, we got to try a sampling of flavored oils. The flavor injected into these oils had to be tasted to be believed. Seriously. I don’t think any amount of text can fully convey how very lemony the lemon olive oil is, or how spicy and vegetable fresh the jalapeno is.
The extreme infusion of flavor in Sciabica’s flavored olive oils is because they do not infuse the flavor through heat like most olive oils. Instead they send fresh fruits or herbs with the olives through the presses. For example, fresh, whole lemons will get crushed with the olives in the mill to produce Lemon Olive Oil, and big, beautiful jalapeños will go through the same process for the Jalapeno Olive Oil. The process is cold, all natural and amazingly fresh tasting. (CLICK HERE to check out a video of the process!)

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I had already tried the garlic, basil and lemon flavored oils at home and so far the lemon was my favorite (I’ve been using it to make a honey mustard vinaigrette, and have been eliminating the lemon juice in the recipe since the lemon flavor is so strong!) But when Jonathan pulled out their Orange Olive Oil paired with their Pomegranate Balsamic Vinegar, I was sold on my new Sciabica favorite!!
The Orange Olive Oil and Pomegranate Balsamic Vinegar duo was so good, and the flavor so crisp and intricate, that I can eat those two alone on a salad and feel like I’m having a complex, gourmet dish! We picked some up at the gift shop, and I’m very much looking forward to orange and pomegranate flavored salads when I kick start my “lose the baby weight” diet next week!
After the olive oil tasting, Jonathan was kind enough to show us the original groves planted by his great-grandfather that started it all in Modesto. The grove was situated behind the house his grandfather built, where his family currently resides. In a world that is increasingly becoming industrialized and taken over by “Big Agriculture”, it was refreshing to see this family owned and operated, heritage rich grove. The rolling hillside with olive and pomegranate trees was beautiful and unassuming. While it is only one of many groves owned by the Sciabica family to produce their award-winning oils, it was fun getting a little behind the scenes peek at the groves that started it all.

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Interested in Trying Sciabica’s Olive Oils for Yourself?

The full line of Sciabica products – from oils, to cosmetics, to vinegars – are available for order on their website, www.sunshineinabottle.com (CLICK HERE to check it out!).
The Sciabica Family is committed to providing quick, friendly service – both in person and via online orders. My samples for review came redunkulously fast, and the one on one service with olive oil tasting and touring the grove just blew me away!
If you are tempted to give their oils a try – doooo eeeet! They offer “worry-free” ordering – meaning EVERYTHING they sell comes with an unconditional, money back, 100% satisfaction guarantee.  That means, if you don’t love it, they don’t want you to pay for it. Period.
My husband and I are planning on making a trip to the gift shop a must whenever we’re in Modesto for errands. I’m super excited to try all of the individual olive oil varieties, and I’m keeping my eye on their website for upcoming specials and sales.
[Disclaimer: There are no affiliate links in this review. I am an independent product reviewer. I only review products I am truly interested in. I don’t accept payment for reviews. The products I take the time to jabber on about are either items I have personally purchased, or the product has been provided for review after me incessantly nagging for a sample. All of my reviews are unbiased regardless of how the item was obtained.]

Have you tried individual olive oil varieties before? Interested in trying Sciabica Olive Oil? Share below! (And if you decide to give Sciabica’s Olive Oil a try, let them know Domestic Geek Girl sent you!)

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Gingi Freeman
Gingi Freeman
Gingi is a photographer, cosplayer, amateur chef, crazy cat lady, anime otaku, bookworm, generic geek, world traveler, conservative Christian, homeschooler, devoted military wife and stay at home new mother of two little girls.

Gingi blogs about anything and everything that is relevant to being a supermom, stay at home wife, homeschooler and geek girl! You can contact her at gingifreeman@gmail.com or via the contact form on her website at www.domesticgeekgirl.com

Gingi Freeman

Gingi is a photographer, cosplayer, amateur chef, crazy cat lady, anime otaku, bookworm, generic geek, world traveler, conservative Christian, homeschooler, devoted military wife and stay at home new mother of two little girls. Gingi blogs about anything and everything that is relevant to being a supermom, stay at home wife, homeschooler and geek girl! You can contact her at gingifreeman@gmail.com or via the contact form on her website at www.domesticgeekgirl.com

50 thoughts on “Olive Oil Tasting at Sciabica’s California Olive Oil in Modesto

  • 22 March, 2015 at 1:54 am
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    Wow Gingi, sounds like you are doing well after the baby! This post is so much fun! Need to try Sciatica’s Olive oils 🙂

    • 22 March, 2015 at 4:08 am
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      I really am! I actually feel great.. I’ve been getting in a lot of spring cleaning and yard work with the hubby during his paternity leave. Everyone seems so surprised that I am so active but really.. I feel fantastic! Anyhoo, if you do try Sciabica’s Olive Oil, let me know what you think! <3

  • 22 March, 2015 at 6:37 am
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    Wow, very informative! Alas, living in the Midwest, there are no easily accessible olive groves, or growers… looks like Sciabica’s might just be the next best thing. I’ll definitely be checking out their website.

    Amazing, how quickly you’ve recuperated; congrats on the new wee one!

    • 22 March, 2015 at 7:21 pm
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      Thanks Jacqueline! She is an absolute joy, we are VERY blessed! ^_^

  • 22 March, 2015 at 7:12 am
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    Looks fantastic, seems good product. Thanks for the detailed review, appreciate it.

  • 22 March, 2015 at 8:14 am
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    This sounds like an actual dream to me. I read the title of this post and I fell in love already. I’m kind of obsessed with olive oil. Definitely putting this on my bucketlist! xo // Naomi in Wonderland

    • 22 March, 2015 at 7:23 pm
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      I think olive oil tasting needs to be up there with wine tasting in a culinary bucket list, haha. Now I just need a whiskey tasting tour next. 😉

  • 22 March, 2015 at 8:38 am
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    Hi Gingi- thanks for visiting .. love the post about Sciabicas of California – amazing range of products they have researched and produced … take care … Hilary

  • 22 March, 2015 at 10:40 am
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    I have never tried the different flavors but since I am eating more healthy, I would love to try the infused flavor ones… they sound delicious… xox

    • 22 March, 2015 at 7:25 pm
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      They really are! I am partial to the citrus infused ones! <3

  • 22 March, 2015 at 2:48 pm
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    such a fun tasting,
    i only purchased cold pressed natural extra virgin olive oil

  • 22 March, 2015 at 8:01 pm
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    I’ve never tried their olive oil before. It sounds excellent! What a wonderful tour! I love that your little girl also taste tested…

    • 23 March, 2015 at 2:31 am
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      Yeah, I love the photo with her tongue pressed into the tasting cup! hehe!!

      • 23 March, 2015 at 9:46 pm
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        As adorable as that photo is, all I can think of is how she’s dropped oil onto her cute little top! ack…can’t turn off the penny pinching mom.

  • 22 March, 2015 at 10:16 pm
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    I didn’t even know that you could do olive oil tastings! I love olives and olive oil, sounds like a great day 🙂

    Corinne x

    • 23 March, 2015 at 2:32 am
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      I knew there were olive oil tastings, but I didn’t expect the flavors to be SO DIFFERENT.. I was really surprised!

  • 23 March, 2015 at 12:38 am
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    Olive oil is a staple in my kitchen, so this sounds fantastic 🙂

  • 23 March, 2015 at 12:58 am
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    yum.

    an oil tasting. and these oh-so-lovely photos that have captured the beauty of the experience!

    wonderful!

  • 23 March, 2015 at 1:37 am
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    I didn’t know that there is such a huge variety of olive oil in existence, really interesting information! I would love to go for olive oil tasting too if given a chance!

    Prudence
    http://www.prudencepetitestyle.com

    • 23 March, 2015 at 2:33 am
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      Same here.. I just thought olives were olives, haha. This was a really educational outing!

  • 23 March, 2015 at 9:59 am
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    What a lovely treat! Olive oil is a real joy for your taste buds. I love using it in salads or just dipping bread in it as a snack. I remember when we were in Greece how the olive oil tasted differently between brands, quality and type of olives. Some you could almost drink staight from the bottle since they were so delicious. I am glad to see that you are back and feel so great 🙂 *Hugs*

    • 23 March, 2015 at 3:08 pm
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      You lived in Greece?! So so jealous!! Like I said.. the more I learn about you, the cooler you get, haha! But yeah, the Orange Olive Oil and Pomegranate Balsamic Vinegar was so good together you could just drink it straight.. soooo yummy!

  • 23 March, 2015 at 10:40 am
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    Wonder if they will deliver to Malaysia? Would love to try. Over here, it rather expensive to buy olive oil. So I stick with local brands.

    • 23 March, 2015 at 3:09 pm
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      I’m not sure about their policy on shipping worldwide.. good question to ask!

  • 23 March, 2015 at 11:04 am
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    Wow! What a fun adventure. I love olive oil and balsamic vinegar tastings. To be right on an olive grove and to see the process is simply fantastic. 🙂

    • 23 March, 2015 at 3:13 pm
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      We’re planning on visiting them in the fall to try some of their fresh pressed Olio Nuevo!

  • 23 March, 2015 at 2:37 pm
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    Hi Gingi! I always think you have to pop over to Italy to get some good Olive Oil but apparently Sciabica’s offers a closer to home opportunity. Olive oil tasting looks so fun! Wish I could have joined you. I love all that good fat crammed in there. Plan on using a ton for tonights dinner. Must check out their website!!!

    • 23 March, 2015 at 3:15 pm
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      It’s kind of cool, I’ve been reading more and more about how California olive oils have been giving Italy a run for their money and beating them out in taste tests and awards at food shows and competitions. California oils are going the way of California wines on the global stage it seems…

  • 23 March, 2015 at 2:52 pm
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    Orange Olive Oil paired with Pomegranate Balsamic Vinegar sounds like a match made in Heaven! I think I need to order those two. Thanks for the great story Gingi.

  • 23 March, 2015 at 3:01 pm
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    Looks like a fun and magical day. Would love to tour a place like that and do a tasting. I never had flavored Olive oil. Sounds delish 🙂

  • 23 March, 2015 at 3:20 pm
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    Wow – I’ve never seen so much olive oil. And I had no idea that you could/would just taste it plain. What a fun experience!

    • 24 March, 2015 at 4:47 pm
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      Yeah, I always thought you dip bread in it.. but they said that can mask the true flavor. I was happy the oil was yummy enough to taste solo!! haha..

  • 23 March, 2015 at 3:23 pm
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    When it comes to olive oil it’s always fresh bread with olive oil + balsamic vinegar taste, mmm, already drooling)
    My friends keep telling me how good the olive oil soap is, but I’ve never tried it before, guess I need to do it.
    Loved your post, so honest review and wonderful pictures)
    http://www.stripesnvibes.com

    • 24 March, 2015 at 4:49 pm
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      Every once in while I decide to go carb free, and cut bread out of my diet completely.. and when I “cheat”, thats usually the combo I go with! hehe…

  • 23 March, 2015 at 6:16 pm
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    I love olive oil too! I always buy European oil as it’s for us the most local we can get. I went to a tasting once, I really enjoyed dipping the small pieces of bread into all the different flavoured oils!

    • 24 March, 2015 at 4:50 pm
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      Sound fun!! It’s def something I want to do again!

  • 23 March, 2015 at 7:01 pm
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    Oh wow, this is such a well written article and I definitely learn something from it. I didn’t know there’s such thing as oil tasting, the idea is completely new to me.

    Shireen | Reflection of Sanity

  • 23 March, 2015 at 8:33 pm
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    Hey Gingi! How are you? I hope you and your baby doing great! Loved this post. I’m a huge fan of oil and wine tasting. I need to try Sciatica’s Olive oils!

    • 24 March, 2015 at 4:51 pm
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      We are doing fantastic, thank you so much for asking!! And let me know what you think if you give these oils a try!! <3

  • 23 March, 2015 at 10:43 pm
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    I love the photos of the grove. Just to see some space not covered in snow is refreshing, but it looks SO inviting in there. I just tuck in with a glass of wine, a baguette and some of that olive oil. I’d be happy for hours…

  • 26 March, 2015 at 6:37 pm
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    Such an olive oil fan myself! That looks like so much fun and you are so right, the quality greatly differs! I visited an olive oil grove last summer with my family in Greece (Crete) and brought back as much as I could in my suitcase. Delicious and what a difference in taste!

  • 24 April, 2015 at 4:12 pm
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    I love this place. It’s our go to place for olive oil. So many choices. I can remember Uncle Tony (God rest his soul) always working. What a great family.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

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