Olive Oil and a Ponzi Scheme; Say it Isn't So



I've been a fan of Pasolivo olive oils since I visited the farm and tasting room in Paso Robles nearly 10 years ago.I was charmed by the owner's wife Joeli Yaguda, the setting on a 130 acre ranch was bucolic and the product was packaged beautifully. And the oils tasted spectacular and bright. The family-owned business was also at the forefront of the California Olive Oil revolution having received accolades from among others, the New York Times, Bon Appetit, Saveur and winning tasting competitions including a top ten ranking by Der Feinschemker, who hosts one of the world's largest international olive oil tastings.

So when I recently ran out of Pasolivo's Kitchen Blend - my go to favorite - rather than ordering one bottle, I decided to join their olive oil club.But I opened the box today and discovered the company had been sold. My heart sank a little and I immediately consulted the google machine.It turns out not only did the family have to sell Pasolivo, Joshua Yaguda and his mother Karen Guth are in jail for perpetrating a Ponzi scheme through their company Estate Financial. According to The Tribune in San Luis Obispo, the mother and son bilked tens of millions of dollars from more than 1,000 people including parents who have lost college funds, elderly or disabled people and even a community church which can no longer pay their pastor. 

That's the bad news.

The good news is that the company has been purchased by the Dirk Family of Newport Beach. Even though the Dirks are in the toner and specialty ink business, they apparently have a passion for the central coast and plan to expand the tasting room and enhance the surrounding property.They will continue to produce premium extra virgin olive oils from 11 sustainably grown varietals that are hand-picked, milled and master-blended on site.They've also brought in General Manager Cheryl Wieczorek, who is well known in the community for her work at Justin Winery - one of the area's leading wine producers. 

Now I can toss my raw shredded beet and carrot salad with Pasolivo's Tangerine special blend, add a splash of sherry vinegar, salt, pepper and know that in this case, change is good. 

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