Tama Takahashi
October 24, 2013 | MIscellaneous Wine Fun! , Touring & Tasting Magazine, Wine & Food Pairings, Wine Country Travel | Tama Takahashi

We Olive: A Sensory Experience

Step into the bright and sparkly We Olive wine bar in the Thousand Oaks mall and you step into a world of sensory experiences. Like all the We Olive stores, this one is chock-full of mouthwatering treats. From authentic extra virgin olive oils, some infused with delicious flavors like fresh basil or jalapeño peppers, to handcrafted pestos, mustards and tapenade, a world of flavor combinations await. Select We Olive stores, like the Thousand Oaks We Olive, carry a stellar line-up of California wines from premium small-lot producers.

We Olive wine bar

Touring & Tasting was invited to the opening party for the Thousand Oaks We Olive Wine Bar. Owners Alan and Pam Davis [at left, below] opened their store in March and added the wine bar six weeks ago. Alan showed off his impressive wine list which is constantly evolving and changing. Alan explained, "We listen to our customers to see what they are looking for", so he adapts to customer feedback. He also wants to carry only unique wines, so if a particular one becomes too widely available, he will discontinue carrying it. We Olive is dedicated to supporting small producers, giving them a venue to showcase their wines while providing We Olive customers with an exceptional selection of wines they might not find elsewhere. Wine is available by the bottle, glass, half-glass or taste--a wonderful way to sample a wide range of wines. In fact, We Olive wine bars are designed to have representative wines from all the wine regions in California, so you can tour the state all from one location!

Owners We Olive

We Olive founders Frank and Ruth Mercurio and their son Josh [Josh and Ruth, above right] were helping celebrate the opening. The eleven We Olive stores expanded from the flagship store in Paso Robles. Frank and Ruth were celebrating their anniversary in 1997 when they found an olive tasting store and decided to purchase it and develop their vision of an enjoyable and educational experience featuring California’s finest extra virgin olive oil producers, artisan food purveyors, wine tasting, chef demonstrations, and cooking classes using local seasonal produce. Frank is a scientist and used to work at a biotech company. Ruth has a culinary degree from San Diego Culinary Institute, such an arduous program that only 9 of her class of 35 graduated because it was so challenging and competitive. Ruth joked, "I can't watch Hell's Kitchen on TV because I get PTSD!" Now, she uses her culinary expertise to create innovative culinary treats using We Olive's line of gourmet products.

Josh Mercurio of We Olive

The Mercurio's son Josh, a bright and articulate young man well-versed in the specifics of olive oil production, poured an olive oil tasting for us and explained the difference in quality of the We Olive oils. The US has weak laws governing the labeling of extra virgin olive oil. As a result, oils can be sourced from different countries, vintages and even types of oil, so you may buy a bottle of "extra virgin olive oil" in the supermarket that actually contains corn and canola oil and may be several years old. The mighty health benefits of consuming olive oil is mainly from the antioxidant polyphenols which are destroyed by age. Imported oil is often stored for some time, then must be shipped in containers overseas. Josh pointed out, "The majority of Americans believe they have tried virgin olive oil, but after 2 years, all the polyphenols are gone." We Olive only offers California extra virgin olive oil stamped with the California Olive Oil Council (COOC) seal. Their strict standards exceed any international standards and ensure:

  • The olive oil was mechanically extracted without the use of chemicals or excessive heat.
  • There is less than .5% free oleic acid [a measure of acidity].
  • It has passed a blind taste test, performed by a certified tasting panel, to ensure positive taste elements and no defects.

We Olive basil oil

Interestingly, California produces 99% of the olive oil produced in the United States, but accounts for only 2% of the olive oil actually consumed here. Also, three UC Davis studies found that  2/3 of oils on supermarket shelves are falsely labeled. We Olive is in step with the growing desire for Americans to eat locally and healthfully and the products they carry are of the best quality. Besides exploring the many flavors of oils from buttery to peppery, you'll enjoy spending time tasting the many spreads and sampling the small plates while wine tasting. We Olive is the perfect spot for finding gifts, with friendly and knowledgeable staff who will provide the compelling story behind each artisanal product or wine. Don't forget to try the lovely body care products made with olive oil, which are light and moisturizing and free of harmful chemicals. READ MORE about We Olive.

We Olive pesto


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