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Sunday, February 19, 2012

02/21/2012 - A Taste of Livermore with the Restaurant at Wente Vineyards and Olivina Olive Oil

Matt Greco
Executive Chef at Wente Vineyards

Beginning October 1, 2011, the fall season introduces a new talent to the kitchen at Wente Vineyards. Looking forward to putting his spin on California cuisine, Chef Greco brings excellent technique, passion and creativity to his new role.

Born and raised in Texas, Chef Greco began his career at an organic market in his hometown.  His insatiable hunger continued to propel his budding chef talents and he moved to New York to study at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park. 

Following culinary school, Matt was offered a job at Cafe Boulud, Daniel Boulud's restaurant on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.  There he spent four years learning and perfecting the art of French cuisine under the guidance of Andrew Carmellini, before assisting in the launch of Café Gray.  Working as a Sous Chef at the prestigious restaurant, A Voce, for a year, Chef Greco then returned to Café Gray in 2007 where he was appointed Sous Chef.  There he played an integral role developing the menus and running the kitchen.

During this time, New York’s casual dining scene was starting to gain ground and Matt was inspired to embrace his Southern roots for a casual dining concept.  In June 2008, Matt launched the southern inspired restaurant, Char No. 4 in the trendy Brooklyn quarters.  Designing both kitchen and menu, Matt let the kitchen operations and launched the restaurant to great acclaim, earning a spot in New York Magazine’s ‘Top Ten Best New Restaurants 2009’, and Michelin Guide Bib Gourmand 2009-12.

Following three years at the helm of the kitchen, Chef Greco was inspired to move west and try his hand at California cuisine.  “I have always been extremely influenced by the Bay Area food Scene,” says Greco.  Excited to begin his life and career in the Bay area with his wife and son by his side, Chef Greco joins the team at the restaurant at Wente vineyards with new ideas and creativity. 

“I love that the restaurant has its own garden and am excited to source unique local products and take full advantage of California’s bounty,” says Chef Greco.  His role as Executive Chef will include working closely with Master Gardener, Diane Dovholuk to decide what produce to plant and source for the seasonally changing menu.

Matt’s warm demeanor is a perfect fit for the family owned and run Wente Vineyards.  The restaurant at Wente Vineyards is delighted to bring Matt’s creativity, love of food and new ideas to the restaurant.  His enthusiasm for food and hospitality will be a great addition to the team, where he will collaborate with Carolyn Wente to continue delivering a memorable dining experience for guests at The Restaurant at Wente Vineyards.

Charles D. Crohare
Olivina Olive Oil, Livermore
In 1881, Julius Paul Smith purchased more than 2000 acres on the south-west portion of Livermore, California noted by the historic Olivina stone gateway. The gate marked the beginning of a tree-lined drive leading towards the creek bed of the Arroyo del Valle. The driveway led to the other side of the arroyo to Julius Paul Smith’s home and winery. Mr. Smith was one of the Smith Brothers who developed a borax mining claim in Nevada into an industry whose product became known, eventually, as the world famous Twenty Mule Team Borax.
Olivina was planted in wine grapes, olives, walnuts till Mr. Smith passed away in 1904 and Mrs. Smith ended the wine operation in 1908. Many of the olive trees that were planted back as early as 1881 are still on the property today producing olive oil, making them over 100 years old.
Matt, Charles (jnr) and Steve with
Olivina Oils

Charles D. Crohare purchased a large portion of the estate around 1940 that was west of the arroyo and utilized primarily for cattle operation till “ Olivina” of Olivina Ranch was established and later started planting additional olives in March 2000. Charles F. Crohare and Alice have owned and operated Olivina since 1951 oversees the operation to ensure the highest quality.
A History of California Olive Oil

The simple olive has a very majestic place in history. First cultivated by the Sumerians and the Greeks, the olive was an important part of their diet and their folk lore. The earliest harvesters of olive oil considered their product to be nothing less than ‘liquid gold’
But it was not until 1769, that Spanish explorers brought olive growing to California. To their delight, the Spanish soon found that California provided a wonderful climate for growing olives and producing olive oil. Olive trees flourished in California and today, the state produces 97% of all the olive oil made in the U.S.
A California Olive Oil Renaissance

In the mid 1990’s, the California olive oil industry began to see the beginning of new times. A renewed interest in producing finer, high-quality California grown olive oils began to take hold. Ten years later, California olive oil has the reputation of being some of the best tasting, well made olive oils available in the world.
Continuing a California Olive Oil Tradition

Today, the Crohare Family continues the tradition harvesting the finest California olive oil. Current cultivars consist of Mission, Arbequina, Lucca, Frantoio and Picholine.

Many of the olive trees are over 100 years old and still producing some of the best California olive oil. The historic arched gateway still stands at the corner of Wetmore and Arroyo Roads and Olivina is still producing some the finest California olive oil for you and your family to enjoy.


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