In April, a little more than a year after opening Olivino Tasting Bar in St. Charles, Missouri, owner Debbie Baker-Oliver expanded her artisan olive oil and balsamic vinegar business to Washington, Missouri. Baker-Oliver is now serving four wines produced at her upcoming Triple 3 Vineyard, Winery and Event Center in Washington as well.

Opening the two stores and winery were longtime dreams for Baker-Oliver, who retired from a career as a corporate executive in 2016. Her position afforded her the opportunity to travel to countries around the world and cities across America, and slowly she developed an interest in olive oils and balsamic vinegars.

“I learned that the olive oil in particular that we buy in our grocery stores is a lot of times not real,” she says. “As Americans, what we’re raised to think of as an olive oil is really doctored with other things, oftentimes vegetable oil, and we come to know the flavor of olive oil as really rancidity, but that’s not really what it’s supposed to taste like. So my travels took me around the world and to Italy, and I did a lot of olive oil tasting, and thought, ‘Wow, this is not what we get in the U.S.’ So that set me on a quest to try to find something in the U.S. that was even close to that.”

As Baker-Oliver’s interest in authentic olive oils and balsamics grew, she found herself investing more and more time in research and taste testing, which eventually led her to open Olivino. Today, Olivino’s two locations offer olive oils sourced from both the northern and southern hemisphere – depending on the varying growing seasons – and true balsamic vinegars from Modena, Italy. Baker-Oliver personally knows how important education and tasting is to appreciate high-quality oils and balsamics, so cooking classes and tastings have always been central to Olivino’s mission.

“It’s an experience for people, and that’s kind of our tagline: taste, experience, enjoy,” Baker-Oliver says. “We try to show [customers] that while olive oil and balsamics are yummy and make wonderful salad dressings, they’re used for much more – everything from baking to marinades to our specialty cocktails, which has really taken off.”

Now that the two shops are running smoothly, Baker-Oliver is working to get her next project, Triple 3 Vineyard, off the ground. Currently, Triple 3 offers four wines – Norton, Vignoles, Crimson Cabernet (a Norton and Cabernet Sauvignon hybrid) and Cross-Breed Cabernet, a blend of the winery’s Norton and Crimson Cabernet. For now, the wines are only served at Olivino’s two locations, but Baker-Oliver is hoping to have the winery up and running with regular tasting room hours and for special events by mid-2019.

In the meantime, customers can stop into either Olivino location to get a taste of the wines, as well as seasonal products such as pumpkin pie spice balsamic and pumpkin spice white balsamic. The shops will also be hosting cooking classes for Thanksgiving and the winter holidays; check their respective Facebook pages for all the details.

Olivino Tasting Bar St. Charles, 1650 Beale St., Suite 167, St. Charles, Missouri, 636.757.5455, facebook.com/olivinotastingbar

Olivino Tasting Bar Washington, 120 W. Main Street, Suite 100, Washington, Missouri, 636.900.9333, facebook.com/olivinowashington

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