The Texas Hill Country may be thousands of miles and an ocean away from the olive orchards of Italy, but it has more in common with Italy’s olive oil production than you might think. For starters, both areas offer a warm climate and the right alkaline soil composition that olive trees need to thrive.
For John and Cara Gambini, the rocky limestone landscape of Central Texas not only serves as the perfect spot for growing olives, but the production is a connection to the family’s Italian heritage.
After buying 17 acres of land in 2008, John and Cara, along with her father and a family friend, founded Texas Hill Country Olive Co. Since then, the business has taken off and today, it offers an award-winning selection of olive oil and barrel-aged balsamic vinegar, along with tours and olive oil tastings. It’s currently the only certified organic olive orchard in the state and has become a popular draw with Dripping Springs locals and visitors alike.
A Taste of Italy in the Heart of Texas
When the founders of Texas Hill Country Olive Co. embarked on their business venture they knew that the focus would be on not only providing locally produced organic olive oil but honoring the natural beauty of the landscape. Currently, seven varieties of extra virgin olive oil are offered at an affordable price point of $12 to $34.
For those looking for a little more bite with their olive oil, Texas Hill Country Olive Co. also offers a range of infused oils in bold flavors such as garlic, lemon, blood orange, basil, rosemary, jalapeno, and the earthy North African spice harissa.
The company’s balsamic vinegar offerings have no added sugar and come in a range of delicious flavors such as blackberry, peach, cranberry pear, and chocolate among others. Needless to say, they’re incredibly popular and add a delicious pop of flavor to salads, marinades, and sauces.
Plan Your Visit
While all of Texas Hill Country Olive Co.’s olive oils and balsamic vinegar can be purchased online, you owe it to yourself to pay Cara and John Gambini’s orchard an in-person visit.
A gift shop and tasting bar for visitors to sample the product is open six days a week, as well as a bistro offering small bites, salads, and sandwiches. One of the highlights of visiting, however, is the orchard tour which is offered on both Fridays and Saturdays. “Most olive oil in the grocery stores today isn’t extra virgin olive oil,” John explained. “That alone is a reason for you to visit us here and take one of our orchard tours.” Tours last around 45 minutes and guide visitors through the cultivation of the olive trees up through the pressing of the olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
In addition to tours and tastings, Texas Hill Country Olive Co. is a popular space that can be rented out for private events. “We do everything from birthday parties to rehearsal dinners, to corporate events,” Cara said.
Whether you’re swinging by for a tour or just stopping in for a quick bite and a bottle of olive oil, Texas Hill Country Olive Co. is just one of the many things that make Dripping Springs such a wonderful place. If you’d like to find a home here, reach out to the Caliterra team today.