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Meet the Makers of Signature California Products

Feb. 5, 2020

Today travelers want immersive experiences when they travel and local, authentic souvenirs to take home. California is a cornucopia of artisans and makers ready to share their story and their wares with travelers to the Golden State.

Local Merchandise

Butte County Producers
Butte county is a treasure trove of locally produced goods like Almendra Winery and Distillery and Son Kissed Vineyards owned by local Berton Bertagna. Don’t miss Sohnrey Family Foods where they’ve been selling nuts and prunes for five generations.

Mendocino Mustard
Family owned Mendocino Mustard grew a cult following for its small batch mustards including the most popular Hot & Sweet and Seeds & Suds. Today the mustards are available in local Mendocino shops and grocery stores throughout the North Coast.

Walkin’ Pie
For over 50 years, the Delfino family has grown fruit on their farm in the Sierra Foothills. The family matriarch, Joan, invented Walkin’ Pie when she wanted to find a way to feed pie to her seven children without having to do a bunch of dishes afterwards. So she baked two swirls of dough with spiced apples in between basically creating a pie sandwich. Today it’s a best seller in Joan’s Apple Bakery at the farm in Camino.

Tahoe Talent
Local producers abound in Tahoe. Coalition Snow is the first all women’s outdoor equipment and apparel company designing products for women by women. LaLa Jewelry crafts handmade, yoga-inspired pieces, while TahoeMade features clothing by local designers. Imbibe the local Tahoe Blue Vodka and munch on plant-based Tahoe Trail Bars.

Casa De Fruta
What started as a classic roadside fruit stand has morphed into a California landmark. For over 100 years, Gilroy’s family–owned Casa de Fruta has served up the freshest and juiciest fruit around. Today visitors can pick their own, purchase whatever’s in season or even stay at their RV park.

Girl on the Hill
Drawing on her French heritage, Denise Revel uses the microclimate found high atop Mount Vaca in Vacaville to grow over 4,000 Grosso and Provence lavender plants. The beautifully scented plants are the basis for the Girl on the Hill products ranging from hand cream to lavender room spray.

Carmel Honey Company
It’s not often a company has a CEO that’s still in high school, but such is the case with Carmel Honey Company. The business was born out of a project owner Jake Reisdorf developed in fifth grade. Today there are stores in Carmel-by-the-Sea and along Monterey’s famed Cannery Row. Customers can buy a variety of honey products, experience honey tasting flights, and learn more about bees at each location.

Temecula Olive Oil
Head to Temecula Olive Oil Company’s tasting room to experience the distinct flavors of its 100 percent California olive fruit oils. The family owned company also sells olive oil based products, balsamic vinegars and artisan foods.

Pure Senses
Santa Monica massage therapist and aromatherapy expert Paula Naples frustration with all the chemicals and preservatives found in beauty products drove her to start Pure Sense by Paula. Her body scrubs, lotions, bubble bath and massage oils are made using no alcohol, mineral oil or petroleum products.

Where it all Started

The iconic action sports brand Volcom was founded by two buddies in the early 1990s that were initially more interested in riding snowboards, skateboards and surfboards than focusing on business. How times have changed! Today the Costa Mesa-born company is a worldwide lifestyle brand for riders of powder, water and asphalt.

Sex Wax
The iconic surfboard wax, Sex Wax was invented by surf shop owner, Frederick Charles Herzog, III affectionately known as “Zog.” The cheeky name and logo came from his friend, Santa Barbara artist and fellow surfer Hank Pitcher. Today Sex Wax is available in surf shops throughout the Santa Barbara area.

In 1966 the Van Doren brothers opened a tiny storefront in Anaheim where they manufactured shoes on premise and sold directly to the public. From those humble beginnings the global phenomena of Vans Shoes was born. Today the classic waffle bottom shoe is a staple among surfers and skateboarders. The company is still family run and is headquartered in Costa Mesa.

Hobie Cat
Since 1950, Dana Point’s Hobie Alter has made his mark in shaping water sports. He invented the polyurethane foam surfboard and the Hobie Cat, a lightweight easy to sail playboat. In 1954 he opened the world’s first retail surf shop, Hobie Surf Shop.

Iconic Souvenirs

Absolution Woodworks
Working in a 400 sq. ft. shop behind his home in Visalia, David Daniel is turning out custom hand carved wood furniture and cutting boards. He sources the lumber locally from orchard removals where trees would otherwise be burned or turned to mulch. Travelers can find Absolution Woodworks at the Visalia Farmers Market.

Screaming Hands
Skateboarding and Santa Cruz are synonymous so it’s no surprise that the iconic Blue Screaming Hand symbol originated here. Today visitors can find it adorning skateboards and clothing sold at shops throughout the city.

Heath Ceramics
Heath has an unparalleled California heritage: Potter Edith Heath founded the company in 1948 and opened a factory in Sausalito in 1959 that’s still going strong. The company designs, manufactures, and sells highly functional goods for the home, most notably tableware and tile.

Paula Radke Gallery
Artist Paula Radke uses time honored techniques honed by Italian masters to transform Dichroic Glass into unique pieces of jewelry. Bring home a special souvenir or try your hand at making your own at one of her classes in Morro Bay.

Susie Q’s Santa Maria Seasoning
California’s Santa Maria Valley has its own unique type of BBQ, the Santa Maria Style. This dry rub style can be recreated at home with Susie Q’s seasoning, a proprietary blend of locally grown garlic, black pepper, salts and fresh parsley. The spice blend also elevates everything from popcorn to pasta.

Catalina Pottery
For over a century, Catalina Island artists have created highly collectible Catalina Pottery. Today modern artisans are continuing the tradition with tiles and pottery available in the Catalina Island Museum and the galleries and boutiques of Avalon.

Beach Brella Umbrellas
Laguna Beach local surfer and beach bum Shelley Arends turned her own need for shade on the beach into a business with the launch of Beach Brella. Her handmade modern vintage chic umbrellas provide 100 percent UV protection and are popping up all over famous Laguna Beach.

Shields Date Garden
For nearly 100 years Shields Date Garden has been an homage to all things date related. Located in the Coachella Valley, where 95 percent of US dates are grown, visitors to Shield’s can enjoy a famous date shake at their 1960s shake counter, taste the variety of dates grown on property at the sample counter, walk through the 17-acre date grove or learn about dates watching the amusing film, “The Romance & Sex Life of the Date.” 

Bella Vado Avocado Oil
San Diego is the avocado capital of the country, producing 60 percent of the nations avocados. Bring home a taste of California with locally made Bella Vado’s Extra Virgin Avocado Oil. The cold pressed oil comes in original flavor and specialty flavors like lemon, jalapeno and garlic.