The 2019 Central Coast Vinegar Competition

Announces Winners


The Central Coast Vinegar Competition (CCVC) is proud to announce the award-winning vinegars from its 6th-annual blind-tasting event, held June 20 at the California Mid-State Fair

Best in Show went to IL Fiorello’s Winter Fruit – Orange and Pomegranate Vinegar. The honor came after judges awarded it a Double Gold Medal in the Flavored Class. 

Other Gold Medals:

IL Fiorello’s Blood Orange Vinegar (Fairfield, CA)

 Bronze Medal:

IL Fiorello Red Wine Vinegar (Fairfield, CA)

Packaging and Design Winners:

Gold: IL Fiorello’s Red Wine Vinegar

Bronze: IL Fiorello’s Winter Fruit- Orange and Pomegranate Vinegar


Who would have known that our vinegar is that good!  Well the judges at the Central Coast Vinegar Competition sure thought so. Thank you for the honor. I am delighted that the judges enjoy our products. Thank you to the judges for acknowledging our products. Our olive oils did exceptionally well in the competition as well. Gold for Mandarin, Silver for Pendolino, Kaffir Lime and Lemon and Bronze for Bearss Lime.

I love making the Balsamic Vinegar Reductions the California way; our customers love the balance of sweetness and acidity.

As most of you know, balsamic vinegar can really only be made in Modena Italy, in the Reggio Emilia area of Italy. It is a protected product. Very special, very ancient, very very good.  This product has been around for over two millennia. The Romans and Greeks would drink vinegars to help in digestion. Today we enjoy the vinegars for great taste, and great pairing with foods.

When I was in Modena, Italy, I had the privilege of visiting two excellent balsamic vinegar producers, Acetaia La Noce, and Antica Acetaia Villa Bianca. Gracious hosts, wonderful food, and amazing tours with tastings of their Balsamic Vinegars. A long and gracious history of making this incredible product.  It is with this in mind, the respect for the heritage product, that we call ours Balsamic Vinegar Reductions.


Balsamic Vinegar is made of grape must and wine vinegar. Each producer can choose the ratio of ingredients, with a minimum percentage of grape must set at 20%, and at 10% for wine vinegar.

The first step of production is the harvest of Trebianno and Lambrusco grapes. The grape must cooks slowly and carefully, the amount of time is important and each producer is unique. The producer mixes the cooked must with the wine vinegar and transfers it into huge wooden oak barrels. The vinegar then matures for a minimum of 60 days and up to one year.  The process is the conversion of sugars to ethanol by Acetobacter, a yeast bacterium. The process continues with the oxidation of ethanol to acetic acid by the acetic acid bacteria. The liquid remains at least 12 years in ageing barrels of different woods. Oak, Chestnut, Cherry, Ash, Juniper, and others that impart flavor and complexity. Each family process is a little different.

Check the label on the bottle of balsamic vinegar that you are buying from the local grocery store. If the ingredient label says red wine vinegar as the first ingredient then that is what it is, red wine vinegar, not balsamic. Often producers will add sugar syrup to make the red wine vinegar more appealing. Be a discriminating purchaser.

At IL Fiorello, we use a young balsamic from Italy, and then in true California tradition, we impart some magic. Each individual batch of balsamic reduction takes over a week to produce, very slowly, very carefully. Then it ages for another year before presenting to our customers. We even have a secret 5-year-old supply, which will be a special Grove Club offering in another 5 years.

Age the Balsamic and use the Extra Virgin Olive Oils immediately.


How DO you use this amazing product? Just a few drops will allow the contrast of sweet and savory to push your taste buds right over the top.

  1. Delicious on fresh fruit

Two drops on a watermelon slice

  1. Better on Grilled fruit

Three drops on a grilled apricot or peach

  1. On gelato – our Olive Oil Gelato in particular
  2. On savory foods -a steak just off the grill with Frantoio Olive Oil and our Signature Balsamic Reduction.
  3. In a spritzer with fresh fruit

I served friends Pt Reyes Blue Cheese with the Winter-Fruit, Orange-Pomegranate Balsamic Reduction last evening.  It was really beyond delicious, and we could not stop eating the cheese.


Years ago in Milan, just having arrived in Italy that morning, we were hungry and wanting real honest Italian food. Our hotel directed us right across the street and wandered into a restaurant called The Antique Pig. They presented an amazing Chef’s taste of perfectly toasted warm crostini, topped with a perfectly ripe slice of fresh pear, a perfectly cut slice of Parmesano Reggiano Cheese and three drops of 25 year old balsamic. I have never had a better taste of Italy. Perfect all around. What a welcome. You can try this at home just have the best ingredients and truly enjoying the experience.

This was a memorable way to begin a trip.

What a wonderful thought. Maybe tonight you should try this on the back deck and imagine you are in Italy.

Remember, you do not need much, a few drops to enhance your food.


Ciao,  Ann