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A former UMW official and his wife have opened Taste Oil Vinegar Spice in downtown Culpeper.
Jan Davis (above) and George Farrar have opened a shop offering varieties of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
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By Cathy Jett
LIKE many people,
The only question for the Amissville couple was what type of business they should dip into their savings to open.
Farrar, the University of Mary Washington's former associate vice president of university relations, and Davis, who'd been a consultant in Crystal City, found the answer last May when they visited FIORE Artisan Olive Oils & Vinegars while vacationing in Bar Harbor, Maine.
FIORE's main feature is a tasting room where customers can sample and buy dozens of extra virgin unfiltered olive oils and aged balsamic vinegars, as well as a variety of specialty foods and accessories.
"We were so intrigued," said Farrar. "We thought, wow, we think this is something we can bring back to Virginia."
Two weeks ago, the couple opened a similar business, Taste Oil Vinegar Spice, inside a 1,200-square-foot space at 202
"The fun part is that you come in and you pour yourself a sample to test," said Farrar. "We have 40 different kinds of extra virgin olive oil. Some are just plain extra virgin and some have been infused with things like basil or California garlic."
Taste Oil Vinegar Spice also carries 17 types of aged balsamic vinegar from Modena, Italy; organic spices; and Choffy, brewed chocolate made from roasted, ground cacao beans. Choffy got a boost recently when Dr. Oz discussed its health benefits on his television show.
"Those who've seen the Dr. Oz show snap it up," Farrar said. "Those who haven't are very curious about it."
Farrar and Davis decided to open their shop last July, several weeks after Farrar left UMW. Davis had already been taking online classes from the Small Business Administration, so they had an idea of what they were getting into. They also talked with the owners of FIORE and their supplier in California, which the couple is using for their shop, and visited two similar stores in Boston and Frederick, Md.
"Really, the main thing is the olive oil," said Farrar. "There's so much difference between fresh olive oil and what you get at the grocery store. We only carry the freshest."