Sonoma Valley vintners Fred and Nancy Cline, who own Cline Cellars and Jacuzzi Family Vineyards, have bought a controlling stake in The Olive Press, an olive oil producer and custom olive pressing facility.
The company was co-founded in 1995 by Ed Stolman and Deborah Rogers. Stolman died in December, and the Clines purchased his interest in the business.
Rogers resigned her daily management responsibilities, but remains a partner in the business, said Nancy Cline, chief operating officer of The Olive Press and an owner of Cline and Jacuzzi.
"We're just so excited to have made the purchase, and it has really been a lot of fun learning about the different varietals and the nuances of each varietal," she said. "It's very similar to the wine business, in that there's a component of education that's involved to the consumer, and the consumer responds very well with a little education."
The Clines, who were part-owners in Olive Press before, now own 82 percent of the business. Rogers retains 18 percent, and will remain a consultant to the business, Nancy Cline said.
The deal closed in early March and included the Olive Press brand, olive mill and inventory. Financial terms were not disclosed.
"Fred and I have been owners of a very small share of it, and Ed indicated that he would love for us to carry on," said Nancy Cline. "He passed away, which is very sad for all of us, because he was an incredible mentor, and just a lovely, passionate man."
Jacuzzi Family Vineyards owns about 45 acres of Italian olive trees that Stolman helped the Clines to plant.
The Olive Press makes delicate, medium and robust extra virgin olive oils, dipping and flavored oils infused with jalapeno, basil parmesan and other flavors, bulk oils and artisan blends. It produced 13,000 gallons of olive oil in the last 12 months. Aside from Rogers, there are no planned changes in staffing for the 25 employees.
"We were not happy to accept (Rogers') resignation, we wanted her to continue to work," Nancy Cline said. "She has put her heart and soul daily into this business for a number of years, and I think she was just ready to take a little breather."
Olive oil will continue to be produced in its facility located in the Jacuzzi Family Vineyards winery building, where the oils are also offered for tasting. The Olive Press also runs a gourmet gift shop and a club where members gain access to limited production olive oils, imports and recipes.