We, Bill and Rosalie McDonough, opened Crate Expectations in a railcar, in Calistoga, in the Napa Valley, California. We provided packing and shipping for tourists to ship their wine home, and sold souvenirs to send along, too. On one bright, but agonizingly slow day, a mysterious woman walked in the door backwards to the counter. It had all the appearances of a robbery! But, instead of a weapon, she spun around and held two tiny sampling spoons right before our mouths. They held a mere few drops of dark brown liquid. She said, “Taste this!”
Frankly, this was still a little off-putting, but perhaps because we have a sense of adventure, or perhaps because we were relieved to be alive, we opened our mouths. We turned to each other as our eyes widened. We both simultaneously exclaimed, “We’re going to sell this!". Turning back to the woman, we spoke again at the very same time, "What is it?”
Just like that. Joy! Excitement!
Epiphany! Caramelized Balsamic Vinegar!
1st test market bottle
2nd test market bottle
Until that moment, we would not have even considered selling any sort of food in the Napa Valley. It’s a much too saturated market, with packaged food on the bottom. Not only is it “The World Renowned Wine Country”, it’s a foodie Mecca as well. Over 3,300,000 tourists a year come to the Napa Valley largely to taste from a gourmet cornucopia! Yet, among all that excitement of culinary choices, Caramelized Balsamic Vinegar became our best seller! It was not uncommon to offer a couple a taste and one say, “No thanks, I’m all tasted out.” while the other tried it. Boom! Another bottle or case out the door.
The First Incarnation-
For our retail store we first purchased it from that importer, a very small operation who brought it from Austrailia only one barrel at a time, and lacked any marketing to speak of. It was terribly expensive and they quit the business. Similarly, our overall costs were too high and we closed the Crate Expectations store front. For a few years Caramelized Balsamic could not be bought anywhere within thousands of miles! Gasp!
Picture the spouse arriving home. “Hi Honey! How was your day?”
“The craziest thing happened today. These people got me to eat vinegar... on ice cream... And I liked it!”
It becomes their little discovery. A Culinary Epiphany. The taste is exciting, and so is the fun of having the next person try it. That “Wow!” and the look on their face… It’s so fun; we are gaining Taste Ambassadors all the time. Literally, it’s word in mouth sales.
Taste it. Enjoy it! Share it. Have fun!
Fortunately, with about an ounce in the last known stateside bottle to compare to, and with the genius of Chef Extraordinaire Miguel Islas Cajero, we developed our own recipe. Carmelized Balsamic Vinegar returns to the United States. Thanks, Miguel! To this day we know of no one in the United States who imports, produces or sells Carmelized Balsamic Vinegar other than us.
Birth of Epiphany Pantry-
In 2016, we moved to Salem, Oregon, changed the company name to Epiphany Pantry, and decided to make Epiphany Caramelized Balsamic Vinegar a full time job.
Our son, Zack McDonough comes on board to help in his off-school hours.
We start making small, 40 gallon batches at our friend Joseph Long’s commercial kitchen, Sauceworks, in Tacoma, Washington.Word spreads as Epiphany Pantry becomes available in over 100 retail stores stretching from the San Francisco Bay to the Canadian border!
When we changed the name to Epiphany Caramelized Balsamic Vinegar, we also changed our labels to readily show its many uses.
Grocers like they don't have to explain why they put vinegar
with the ice cream.
The bunny had to be let go. He was asking for too much money.
Introduction of Epiphany Grape Seed Oils-
In 2016, we experienced our first taste of Herb Infused Grape Seed Oils. We were always impressed by Grape Seed Oil’s attributes; polyunsaturated with zero trans fat, high in vitamin E and Omega 6, high 420 degree smoke point, etc. The least “oily” of oils, it has a silky mouth feel that doesn’t coat the tongue to block other flavors. The infused grape seed oils we tried were really good, but we knew we could make them tastier and still sell them for half the price others were charging. We first released Epiphany Garlic Grape Seed Oil, and soon followed with Epiphany Rosemary Grape Seed Oil.