Sciabica Celebrates 80 Years of California Olive Oil

Since 1936, the Sciabicas have continued a family tradition of quality production and a commitment to their customers.

By Courtney Slusser
Jan. 19, 2017 09:18 UTC

Family-owned Nick Sciabica & Sons recently cel­e­brated 80 years of fam­ily tra­di­tion as one of the old­est olive oil pro­duc­ers in California.

Since 1936, the Sciabica fam­ily has been mak­ing olive oil unmatched in qual­ity and fla­vor,” as described on their com­pany web­site

We’re not in the olive oil busi­ness. We’re in the cus­tomer hap­pi­ness busi­ness.- Joseph Sciabica as quoted by his grand­son, Jonathan

With its pro­duc­tion that began in 1936, the com­pa­ny’s Marsala brand is the old­est con­tin­u­ously-pro­duced California olive oil, and the his­tory of the com­pany reflects the deep her­itage of a class of estab­lished of olive oil mak­ers around the world.

After immi­grat­ing from Marsala, Sicily in 1911, Nicola Sciabica pur­chased a small ranch in California in 1925 where today his grand­sons and great-grand­son con­tinue to dis­trib­ute olives and olive oil har­vested from the orig­i­nal soil.

After search­ing for many years, Sciabica found the per­fect prop­erty in Modesto County. This is like home,” he said, and it has remained home for the Sciabicas ever since, with the fam­ily sit­ting around the din­ner table, lib­er­ally pour­ing fresh olive oil on our pasta, pizza, salad, or even by the spoon­ful — each of us giv­ing feed­back,” as described by Nicola’s great-grand­son, Jonathan Sciabica.

Jonathan attrib­utes much of Sciabica’s suc­cess to his grand­fa­ther Joseph and his incred­i­ble zeal for olive oil and our fam­ily of cus­tomers.”

Daniel, Nick, Joseph and Jonathan Sciabica

Jonathan told Olive Oil Times, He poured his heart and soul into this busi­ness. From the begin­ning, it was­n’t about him­self, the com­pany or the olive oil; it was about the cus­tomers.” His grand­fa­ther would say, We’re not in the olive oil busi­ness. We’re in the cus­tomer hap­pi­ness busi­ness.”

From 1936 through the mid-1970s, Nicola’s son Joseph sold his olive oil mostly to Italian immi­grants out of a small shop in Connecticut, ship­ping from California by train and often mak­ing deliv­er­ies to cus­tomers’ homes late into the night.

The Sciabica fam­ily began pro­duc­ing mono­va­ri­etal olive oils in the 1980s, to cre­ate potent notes of fla­vor spe­cific to the cul­ti­var and each year’s har­vest. Depending on the vari­etal or sea­son, each olive oil emits a dis­tinct taste rang­ing from grassy and pep­pery” to del­i­cate and but­tery-sweet,” a favorite of Jonathan’s mother.

Joseph Sciabica

More recently, the fam­ily has devel­oped a series fla­vored oils with gar­lic, basil, jalapeño, rose­mary, orange, habanero, lime and lemon.

The health ben­e­fits achieved by using fresh, extra vir­gin olive oil on a reg­u­lar basis encap­su­lates an old piece of advice given by Joseph Sciabica, who passed away in 2010 at the age of 95: Olive oil is bet­ter than any med­ica­tion — but it doesn’t work from your shelf.” Joseph Sciabica always said if he could not make the high­est qual­ity olive oil pos­si­ble, he would not make any at all.

For 80 years now, the Sciabicas have car­ried on that zeal­ous pur­suit through hard work and a com­mit­ment to their cus­tomers. As their web­site puts it, We think of it as — from our fam­ily to yours.”


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