The Gambini and Mensik families shared a vision—to create an olive orchard based on a public tree-adoption system similar to the sharecropping systems in Italy, where families could harvest olives and olive oils whenever their trees bore fruit. Breaking ground on 18 acres in the Texas Hill Country—home to numerous vineyards and organic farms—the clans' USDA-compliant organic farming methods soon produced yields that would claim multiple awards, including a gold medal from The Los Angeles International Extra Virgin Olive Oil Competition.
Today, the growers at Texas Hill Country Olive Company tend five kinds of olive trees, which bear harvests that are handpicked, cold-processed, and bottled within 24 hours as artisanal extra virgin olive oils. The farmers also produce traditional and fruit-infused balsamic vinegars on the territory. The grounds encompass a 6,000-square-foot tasting room and an indoor demo kitchen that hosts events such as cooking classes amid eco-friendly touches such as nontoxic paints and teak furniture. An outdoor demo kitchen and an indoor café are also on their way, where small-plate fare made from ingredients sourced from other Hill Country farms will take center stage. Texas Hill Country’s adopt an olive tree program continues to thrive, as each bottle of oil produced by an adopted tree comes with a personalized label and regular reports about the tree's accomplishments at tree school.
ith more than 175 locations nationwide and more than 35 years in the business, Car-X Auto Service has earned a prime spot in the parking garage of quality car care and customer service. Started in 1971 by a team of seasoned muffler-shop owners, the service centers have blossomed from their beginnings as specialty exhaust shops to providers of nearly any repair or maintenance service imaginable, from installing performance-enhancing accessories to treating cars to therapeutic trust falls. In addition to promoting safety and long, healthy engine life with brake services and speedy oil changes, Car-X Auto Service reaches out to the surrounding community with regular philanthropic activities, such as recycling drives and participation in the American Heart Association’s Heart Walk.
Master stylist, educator, and platform artist Nina Grossman traveled the country before settling in Texas. Over the course of 16 years, she honed her skills from Alaska to New York, landing in Austin in 2007 to open Luxe A Boutique Salon. Throughout her career, Grossman has mentored up-and-coming beauty pros on the art of hair design as well as the importance of listening to clients' needs and reinterpretations of show-tune classics. She's gathered a team of master stylists and color specialists, makeup artists, and aestheticians to perform services that range from haircuts and highlights to peels and threading.
Her salon's exposed-brick walls and leather chairs lend it sophistication, and damask-like patterns juxtaposed with animal prints nod to both vintage and contemporary sensibilities. In a private, chocolate-toned skincare room, associates perform fragrant facials with Éminence Organic Skin Care products, soothing complexions in the way the floral artwork soothes the mind. Afterward, women can shop for apparel and accessories in the boutique area or head to the outdoor patio to relax before reemerging into the world.