In a house built during the year that Babe Ruth hit 60 steroid-free home runs (that would be 1927, for those who may not be up on their baseball history), Mike and Mindy Calabro have created a tasting experience like no other in the Temecula Valley.
Temecula is situated just north of San Diego, and is home to a number of wine estates. And in the community’s “Old Town” neighborhood, visitors can walk to a handful of tasting rooms, tucked in among the restaurants, clothing stores and gift shops. That’s where you’ll find Villa di Calabro.
Owned by Mike and Mindy Calabro, the facility features both wine tasting (handled by Mindy) and olive oil tasting (hosted by Mike). The wine tasting is pretty standard — a certain number of samples for a small fee. What sets Villa di Calabro apart is the olive oil tasting.
While other olive oil producers offer free samples, they’re typically handed out in small plastic spoons or paper cups. The Calabros go to the extra expense of providing bite-size pieces of fresh bread for easy dipping, and it makes all the difference.
Adding to the enjoyment is Mike’s presentation. For each type of olive oil and vinegar sampled, Mike offers ideas on how it could be used — perhaps for a salad, or a meat rub, or for a particular dish.
In some cases, he drizzles a few drops of vinegar into a sample of olive oil, creating yet another flavor. I brought home a bottle of Mandarin Orange California Extra Virgin Olive Oil and a bottle of California Cranberry-Orange Balsamic Vinegar, which I plan to mix and use as a dressing for a summer salad — yes, with some Mandarin orange slices tossed in.
Mike — who formerly worked at Temecula’s Wilson Creek winery — is the winemaker, the olive oil maker and the vinegar maker, and tasting through the oils and vinegars is a delightful and educational experience because Mike knows exactly how they were made and why they were made that way.
When visiting the Temecula Valley, a visit to Old Town makes for a nice diversion, and a stop at Villa di Calabro promises to be a highlight.
Villa di Calabro has no online presence, other than reviews from various critics and visitors. The converted 1927 house is located at 41955 Main St., and is open most days from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call ahead to verify hours before planning your visit: 951-695-4525.