As soon as you walk into The Tree & Vine, you know you’re someplace special. A row of stainless vats gleams behind a custom-built wooden counter, and stretched along the surface of polished wood is an array of slender bottles, filled with the fruit of the olive tree and grape vine—extra virgin olive oils and aged balsamic vinegars.
Glance around and you see there’s more. Lots more. Gourmet foods, spices, sea salts, gift baskets, and some of the best cookware and kitchen utensils available, ranging from cutting boards and frying pans to Mason Cash pottery and Brown Betty teapots, with linen dish towels, retro canisters, and bartending supplies placed appealingly in between. Then across the room you see a wide, low, custom-built wooden rack filled with select Mediterranean wines.
If there’s retail heaven for people who love to cook and entertain, you think, this has gotta be it.
Asheville’s Only Independent Olive Oil & Balsamic Tasting Shop
Husband-and-wife team Paul and Terri Karlsson started The Tree & Vine in 2011 and have found it to be successful beyond what they could have imagined, although neither had prior retail experience. In fact, they had never even considered the business before March of that year, when they strolled into an olive oil and balsamic shop in Hilton Head and knew this was something they wanted to do.
In less than three months, they found a retail space, fitted it out, built the shelves, sourced the imported olive oils and balsamics, lined up suppliers, purchased inventory, and did everything involved in launching a start-up, all as a wholly independent business (no franchise). In June of 2011, The Tree & Vine opened its doors at that first shop in Biltmore Village.
In less than a year they opened a second Tree & Vine in Knoxville, and less than a year after that they also started a pet supply store down the street. Then in September of 2015, they moved the growing Asheville store to Gerber Village.
A Love of Helping People
They attribute much of their success to the fact that they love the products and see the business as a service as much as a store. In fact, they often say they work in hospitality, not retail. “We just love dealing with people,” Terri says.
And it shows.
“For starters, we deal directly with our suppliers,” she continues. “No middlemen.” All of their high quality, extra virgin olive oils and balsamic vinegars are sourced directly from Italy, Greece, and Uruguay, many from old family vineyards and producers going back hundreds of years. “We personally select all the olive oils and balsamics we sell.”
Amazingly, they manage to do all of this while leading busy lives. The master craftsman who made that beautiful wooden counter and custom cabinetry throughout the shop? None other than Paul himself. Terri serves as music director for a church in Mills River and continues to give private voice and piano lessons. Together they run a bed and breakfast at their mountain retreat home in Pisgah Forest, and they’ve operated a remodeling and general contracting business for years.
And this was after busy professional careers in their former life: Paul is a retired Naval aviator and former global consultant for a Fortune 100 company, while Terri led human resources at a Fortune 100 company before stepping into the world of managing nonprofits. This varied background is clearly part of what make The Tree & Vine unique.
Wine Tastings & Food Tours
Since 2013 The Tree & Vine has also offered private culinary tours to Spain and Italy. This year’s tour is a Gourmet Getaway to Catalonia, Spain, October 9-17, featuring Mediterranean vineyards, markets, and wineries.
In May The Tree & Vine got their license to sell wine by the bottle and by the glass, so visitors can now sample the exquisite tastes of imported olive oils and balsamics along with a glass of Mediterranean wine. This has also allowed them to start offering special Wine Tasting events in the shop. To catch the next Wine Tasting or other upcoming events, check their website or sign up for their newsletter here.
The Tree & Vine is located at 10 Crispin Court, Suite D-104, and is open Monday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and on Sunday from 12:00 to 6:00 p.m.
For more, visit TheTreeAndVine.com, or call 828-505-4040.