Tradition. Legacy. Family. Italy is known worldwide for its excellent culinary traditions, it’s love for food, and the passion Italians feel for properly-made recipes. This emotion, pleasure, and desire are all embodied in the finest of balsamic vinegars made by historic family producers in Modena and Reggio Emilia, Italy.
According to seriouseats.com, the oldest written record of balsamic vinegar dates to the year 1046. That is when a bottle was reportedly given as a gift to the Holy Roman Emperor Enrico III of Franconia. This beloved liquid gold was given in small vials to friends or as part of a dowry, and passed down as a family heirloom. Commercial balsamic vinegar making in the Modena region dates back at least four centuries.
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The tradition of making balsamic vinegar began with peasant families. The families in Modena took advantage of the hot summers and cold winters of the region to grow ideal grapes. The grapes are pressed to produce grape must which is cooked, and then aged in wooden casks. In the Middle Ages, balsamic vinegar was not only used as a condiment, but also as a disinfectant and a health tonic.
The traditions evolved over time, and each family developed their own recipes. Parents passed down these recipes to children, who carried on the custom. Each generation honed methods of making the thick, syrupy product that we today know as one of the finest gourmet condiments on the planet.
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One of the oldest balsamic vinegar producers is the Giuseppe Giusti family, founded in 1605. Since then, 17 generations of Giustis have stayed in the vinegar business in the Modena region. Originally, the family had a delicatessen in town, with wooden casks of vinegar aging in the attic. The family was known for fine meats and other treats as well as balsamic vinegar.
The Leonardi family dates their farm production of balsamic vinegar to 1871. In the countryside of Modena, they grow the Trebbiano and Lambrusco grapes used to make grape must that is then turned into balsamic vinegar.
In 1909, the Mussini family began making their prized balsamic vinegar in the town of Magreta in Modena. They stored the first three barrels in the attic to age to perfection. From the Trebbiano and Lambrusco grapes grown in local soil come fine vinegar. The Mussini family has passed key secrets of their balsamic vinegar recipe from one generation to the next.
The Fattorie Giacobazzi family has produced many fine products over the centuries. For at least five generations, the family has made their own balsamic vinegar. The ladies of the house make the balsamic, and initially, their vinegar was for private use only. Slowly, the women of the family increased production to distribute some of their product locally. In the 1980’s, the family extended their delivery worldwide, keeping the family recipe.
What is the enduring passion in the fabled balsamic vinegar of traditional family producers in Italy? As the vinegar transfers from one wooden barrel to another, the murmurs of ancient mysteries saturate the vinegar with intense flavor and appeal. You can taste and feel the rich history of Italian culture and warmth in every drop.
It is in the details of craftsmanship that the historic Italian balsamic vinegar producers excel. Respecting the traditional methods and the passion for making vinegar, the families of the Modena region of Italy bring the true luxury of fine balsamic vinegar to modern tables aroundthe world.
The wealthy families in Italy have long prized the best balsamic vinegar. Now everyone can have a taste of history, emotion, passion, and deep pleasure. For those who cherish fine condiments, the unique tastes produced by family recipes will astonish and delight. For people who have yet to try real balsamic vinegar, these historic artisanal makers have a most remarkable treat coming to a gourmet shop near you!