2012 sofi Gold Winner

Outstanding Shelf-Stable Foodservice Product

When a neighbor’s You-Pick berry stand closed down next to her 20 acres of farmland located in the central coast of California, Cari Clark picked as many berries as she could. When she tired of making jams, she tried her hand at raspberry vinegar. The result was a hit with family and friends and sold out at local farmers markets. Clark and her husband, Craig, continued to experiment with fruit vinegars and soon expanded their operations, adding fruit-flavored balsamic to the mix. (Last year the couple’s Blackberry Balsamic took home a sofi Gold for Outstanding Salad Dressing, while their Pacific Spice Vinegar garnered a sofi Silver for Outstanding Cooking Sauce or Flavor Enhancer.)

This year, sofi came knocking again. Champagne Mimosa Vinegar is a blend of Champagne vinegar and navel and blood oranges. “The idea came to us over Sunday brunch one day while we were all drinking mimosas,” says Craig Clark. Champagne Mimosa, like all of Chaparral Gardens fruit vinegars, is designed for versatile cooking applications. Local restaurants use this product for sauce reductions and marinades for dishes as varied as cow’s tongue and oysters on the half shell, he notes. Champagne Mimosa even has a place at the bar, where it is being incorporated in the trendy “shrub cocktail,” a tart and acidic fruit-based boozy drink.

Clark says he grows at least 80 percent of all the produce used for the vinegars; the remainder they source from neighboring farms. Stainless steel vats used for fermentation keep the flavor profile exact. Foodservice price: $33/gallon. Contact: Craig Clark, Chaparral Gardens; 805.703.0829; cgvinegar@gmail.com; cgvinegar.com.—N.P.D.

More about this product

Chaparral Gardens Artisan Vinegars start with hand-selected, hand-picked fruits, herbs and vegetables grown on their organic farm. The fresh produce is then placed in small vats along with organic kosher-base vinegar. This Champagne Mimosa Vinegar is made with ripe juicy citrus making it perfect on seafood, as a marinade for baked winter squash or splashed on salad or fruit.  

Cost to Retailer: $33/gal.
Company name:
Chaparral Gardens
Website: http://www.cgvinegar.com

To learn about the sofi Awards competition, visit specialtyfood.com/sofi.