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Boutique Foods
Summer 2003

By Laurann Clarigde
Photography by Holly Stewart

Traveling north on Highway 29, straight to the Napa Valley, you'll find some of the chicest restaurants in the country and some of the world's top-rated wineries. Yet beyond the scenic vineyards lie the richest resources the Wine Country has to offer: boutique foods crafted by dedicated artisans - treasured sources for talented toques from Thomas Keller to Richard Reddington. Load up on these culinary treasures, and we'll give you the story behind the labels.

Villa Mille Rose Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Spend any time on San Francisco's glittering party circuit, and you're bound to see Maria Manetti Farrow. A fixture in the society columns, this powerhouse (who divides her time between San Francisco, Napa and Florence) is a hostess beyond compare. But away from the bustle of the city, Farrow grows Chardonnay and Merlot grapes alongside giant irises and heady Sterling Silver and Fragrant Memory roses at her Villa Mille Rose estate in Oakville. Seven years ago, she planted 353 olive trees of three varieties on this bucolic property, and today she produces an extraordinary organic extra virgin olive oil, its piquant, green profile reminiscent of the oils she grew up enjoying in Tuscany. Villa Mille Rose olive oil has hooked such renowned chefs as Thomas Keller at The French Laundry. And it's the Gold Medal winner of the Los Angeles County Fair two years running. Made predominantly with Frantoio olives, this variety is credited with lending the oil its soft, round, complex taste. At harvest each year, Farrow visits the olive press not far from her orchard and carefully blends the three types of olives to create her own signature style. This year marks the third year of production - and interestingly, her smallest yield, just 70 percent. Characteristically, every other year olive trees yield a fraction of their fruit, which makes the 2003 supply of Villa Mille Rose especially precious. It's estimated that in four years, maximum potential will be reached.