10 May

Two Microsoft millionaires cultivate high-end Italian olive oil

By Melissa Allison & Amy Martinez,

This fall during the olive harvest in Italy, Dan McCarthy plans to have about 180 bottles of freshly pressed olive oil shipped by air from the 50-acre Tuscan estate of his former Queen Anne customers, Enzo Schiano and Claire Beliard.

enzo-schianoTo cover the airfreight, McCarthy & Schiering Wine Merchants will add about $6 to the regular $27 price of a 500-milliliter bottle of Poggio la Noce.

Last year, customers descended on the retailer’s 120 bottles of the “olio nuovo” — new oil — like lovers of French wine greet Beaujolais Nouveau.

Sales of high-end olive oil have slowed, but some Seattleites remain willing and able to pay up for a fresh bottle to drizzle on salads, fresh vegetables and pasta.

Schiano and Beliard, who bought the Italian acreage in 1999 after making millions in marketing and business development at Microsoft, convinced McCarthy that olive oil could be worth a higher price when they brought some Poggio la Noce to Seattle a few years ago.

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