In kitchens about the Sacramento area, the Olive Center at UC Davis is best known for the campus-inspired commercial olive oils it's been releasing over the past couple of years.
Now it's adding the perfect complement to olive oil - vinegar. Made from French Colombard grapes grown on campus, the white-wine vinegar is simply labeled "dinny," in tribute to Dr. A. Dinsmoor "Dinny" Webb. Anyone who ever met the dapper Webb will be struck immediately by the appropriateness of his likeness on the label, from his meticulously groomed mustache to his trademark bow tie. Katie Hetrick, communications director for the building and grounds division on campus, did the portrait.
Why Webb, who retired more than 20 years ago after 40 years as a professor of enology at the UC Davis Department of Viticulture and Enology? For one, Webb, who died five years ago, was a highly respected instructor and researcher. For another, he delighted in transforming wine made on campus into vinegar for his colleagues, especially red-wine vinegar from the university's stand of cabernet sauvignon in Napa Valley. A "dinny" red-wine vinegar from the same vineyard is to be released in the near future, says Dan Flynn, executive director of the Olive Center.
The vinegars are made by Katz and Company in a 150-year-old stone carriage house in Suison Valley, one of just three facilities in the country to use the "Orleans Method" of vinegar production. This technique requires the vinegar to age for 10 months in small French oak barrels, resulting in a vinegar "bright, smooth and fruity," according to Slow Food USA.
Though the campus bookstore currently is sold out of olive oils, the "dinny" white-wine vinegar is available for $10 per 250-milliliter bottle, either at the store or online.