An Evening of Flavor

Presented by Azienda Agricola Giacomo Grassi

Greeted with a complimentary glass of prosecco, and seated to the backdrop of the beautiful greenery and lighting of the Palazzi Community Center, the essence of Florence's countryside was on full display this past Tuesday evening.

Azienda Agricola Giacomo Grassi is a small, family-run olive grove, just 40 minutes outside of Florence's city center. The grove is owned and run by Giacomo Grassi, along with his wife, Fiammetta Nizzi Grifi. On Tuesday, March 5, Grifi hosted an insightful tasting for students and local community members alike. The tasting consisted of several different varieties from the grove. From mono varietal, chianti classico, to blended flavors, guests were treated to an immersive experience of flavor.

Bringing the audience on a journey through the history of the company, Grifi explained that the olive grove's roots date back to traditional sharecropping times, but it wasn't until 1987 when the business really took off. Before the success of the business though, the farm originally belonged to Giacomo Grassi's parents, Rolando and Elena. Growing up, Grassi fell in love quickly with the traditional work involved with life on a farm. Taking inspiration from a sharecropper upbringing, he attended university, where he received a degree in agricultural sciences. Gaining a full grasp of the industry, he obtained the knowledge required to modernize the olive grove, making it possible to expand the business to what it is today.

A turning point for the grove occurred in 1985 when most of it was damaged by the great frost. The grove had to be almost completely rehauled, aligning the olive grove in rows, strictly of the mono-varietal blend. By 1987, it had been fully restored, along with new additional land thanks to merging with three old farms located adjacent to their own.

By 1996, the mono-varietal oil production began, and finally in 2004, these mono-varietal oils were bottled for the very first time. The coming years allowed for research and development for the grove, eventually resulting in the cultivation of 16 different mono-varietal oils as well as 4 blends. By 2006, Grifi and Grassi met, and she took on an integral role in perfecting the production, characteristics and flavor profiles of their oils.

Jumping back to the tasting, all of this was shared with the audience in order to greatly appreciate what they were tasting. From delicate and fruity, to robust and peppery, a full palette of flavors were on display for the audience to take in. Grifi demonstrated how to properly discover the full taste and flavor profile of each oil.

Grifi’s presentation and tasting allowed people to develop a deeper understanding of olive oil culture and what goes into running a successful business like Azienda Agricola Giacomo Grassi. Though the grove may be big in size, Grassi claimed, “Our company and our philosophy remains small.” From start to finish, Grifi wants her company’s oil to remain in Fiorentina, and to remain at its core, a family business.

She left the audience with one final note before ending the presentation. Conveying that olive oil is a staple to Italian culture, she explained to the audience that these oils are not just another topping or a sauce. It is a staple ingredient, ranging from a spectrum of flavor, that has been enhancing Italian cuisine for generations.

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