Family-owned Nick Sciabica & Sons recently celebrated 80 years of family tradition as one of the oldest olive oil producers in California.
We’re not in the olive oil business. We’re in the customer happiness business.
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.
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Jonathan attributes much of Sciabica’s success to his grandfather Joseph and his “incredible zeal for olive oil and our family of customers.”
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.
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.”