Wonder Valley is a profoundly thoughtful brand: from their dedication to the age old practice of hand-harvesting olives, to their emphasis on sustainability and evident passion for the quality of their oil.
I first fell for Wonder Valley's olive oil... what drew me in was the label, but what kept me coming back was the exceptional quality and "green", peppery, supremely fresh flavor. I was thrilled when they expanded into skincare. Olive oil is the hero of their gorgeous products. I religiously use their exfoliant and oil cleanser, which is so deeply nourishing and hydrating.
Keep scrolling to read the full interview, it's such an inspiring story and definitely worth a read.
What was your path to starting Wonder Valley?
Prior to starting Wonder Valley in 2014, I was the marketing director for the California Olive Oil Council in Berkeley. I oversaw the only professional olive oil taste panel in North America for the annual extra virgin certification of the 400+ olive oils in the state. It was an incredible place for me to learn from the best authorities how to taste olive oil, familiarize myself with all varietals growing in the US, and best agriculture and milling practices. We identified a gap in the market and wanted to bring olive oil to a new audience and carve out shelf space (and conversation) around the incredible quality of CA extra virgin olive oil. We joke that a lot of times people pick up the bottle for the packaging but keep coming back for the oil inside. My husband, Jay, and I launched this brand together in 2014 and for a long time, it was just the two of us slowly and thoughtfully building up the brand.
Your olive oil is so very special… HOW?
Thank you! :)
What makes our olive oil so special is a few factors: we hand-pick the fruit rather than machine harvest, which allows us to really handle this delicate fruit with a lot of care and harvest early while the olives are still green and pale purple rather than an over-ripe dark black which is more common. What that does for the oil is gives it that bright, greener flavor profile and a much higher concentration of polyphenols (powerful antioxidants). Our oil is a blend of a handful of different olive varietals, mostly Tuscan with some French and California mission - I love that mix and how lucky we are here in California to be untethered to any tradition and to experiment with oil blends. It changes each year, depending on the harvest yield and what’s going on with the trees, some years one varietal performs beautifully and the next it could be a little light so the ratio is always a variable which I think is very special and unique. Our oil is pressed by one of the few master millers in the state and a former colleague and mentor of mine. We press within hours of picking to protect the integrity of the oil. Our packaging is plastic-free and has been since our first harvest in November 2014: glass, wood, cork, paper and a biodegradable wood pulp that is that anti-tamper wrapper around the top.
What was the segue from olive oil to skincare?
It came about from personal obsession with the mythology and lore of olive oil throughout history. Aside from being a timeless culinary staple we all know and love, it has been used by Greek Olympians to shave, lesser quality oil was an original lamp oil to help illuminate ancient civilizations, and of course it was a beloved beauty ingredient by queens for it’s hydrating and anti-aging properties. This led to me mixing face oils at home for myself and friends, really diving deep on the benefits of other botanical oils and ingredients. That’s how our face oil was born and it’s snowballed from there. I think it’s a really wonderful position we're in to offer supportive products for both internal health and external beauty — and to have a deeper conversation about how the two are intrinsically linked.
What came first, the brand philosophy or the product?
Olive oil was the love and the first product, but we created the brand identity as we were harvesting that first year. I credit my partner and husband, Jay, to the brilliance of the visual world around Wonder Valley.
What’s your dream for the brand?
Physical space to experience the products outside of a retail setting.