Speaking of dukkah, we caught up with one of our favorite producers - Gary & Kit's of Napa Valley - to find out more about how they develop their products and what's next for the brand! As you'll see they have their hands in every aspect of specialty food from condiments to snacks, and olive oils to wine!
Who are Gary & Kit? Gary Erickson and Kit Crawford are the co-owners and Chief Visionary Officers of Clif Bar & Company, the leading maker of nutritious and organic energy bars. They are also the co-owners and co-founders of Clif Family Winery & Farm located in their Napa Valley hometown. The Gary & Kit’s Napa Valley line of specialty food products was inspired by their love of great food and wine. Many of our specialty foods are made to pair with specific wine varietals. Gary and Kit also manage the Clif Family Farm where they grow organic fruit, vegetables, olives and wine grapes. Some of the fruit and vegetables from the farm are used to make our fruit preserves and tomato sauce. We also bottle an extra virgin olive oil from the farm each year.
How do you come up with your product line? Is everything you use in your products grown on the Cliff Farm? Gary and Kit work with our Executive Chef, John McConnell to develop the products in our food line. Although we would love to, we are not able to source all of our ingredients from the farm. Our savory nut mixes, dark chocolates, wine mustards and dukkah spice blends do not come from the farm. Our fruit preserves, pepper jellies, tomato sauce, chutneys and extra virgin olive oil are all sourced from the farm.
You just added a few new products to your product line, what was the biggest challenge in bring your products to market? We do not work with any distributors or brokers to distribute our food products. Everything is sold direct to customers or retailers. Given this approach, we are very limited in our distribution and we have a direct relationship with each of our retailers and customers. Whenever we add new products, it takes time for us to build awareness and grow them in the market.
What is it about what you do that you love the most? From my perspective as General Manager, I love the diversity of what we do. We are able to bring together our passions for wine, food and adventure in every aspect of our business.
What is your most memorable meal? There are so many memorable meals when you work in the food and wine business. We are about to launch a food truck (the Clif Family Bruschetteria) and last week we hosted a pop-up restaurant night to test our bruschetta menu out with friends and family. Chef John McConnell prepared some amazing bruschetta sourcing ingredients from the farm and local purveyors. This was definitely the most memorable meal in recent memory.
What is your favorite food or food trend? As we are about to launch a food truck, we love the popularity that food trucks still have and the ability with a food truck to create a very focused, simple menu.
What are some of the fun/unique ways of using your product? One of our favorite products to use in the kitchen are our dukkah spice blends. They make the perfect easy appetizer (all you need is fresh bread and some tasty extra virgin olive oil) but there are so many other great uses for them from seasoning meats and vegetables to adding them to salad dressings.
What’s next for Gary and Kit’s? The Clif Family Bruschetteria food truck which will be rolling up to our Velo Vino tasting room in early August is the most exciting project on the horizon. We also have some new products under the Gary & Kit’s Napa Valley line that we will have ready for the holidays and some changes to our packaging coming just around the corner!