A confessed “iced tea fanatic,” Karin Campion was tired of the sugar ending up in the bottom of the glass and thought other people might be too. On a trip to Disneyland with her family, they stopped at a cafe where her iced tea was served with a little cup of simple syrup. That confirmed her idea.
While she’s trained as an architect and still practices her profession, Karin has always liked to cook for her family from their garden. She has a giant mint patch and a Meyer lemon tree. Since she loves her iced tea with mint and lemon, she experimented with infusing the simple syrup with these flavors.
“I thought, ‘What if you don’t live in an area where you have access to fresh lemon and mint like we do here in the Sonoma Valley? How could you have this flavor all year long?”
In July of 2003 Karin launched Sonoma Syrup Co. with her Meyer lemon syrup, which immediately became one of cookware store Williams-Sonoma’s top forty best sellers nationwide. The following January the pomegranate was released at the San Francisco Fancy Food Show and was named one of the top 14 products at the show. It was one of ten Fancy Food Show products highlighted by Phil Lempert and Katie Couric on NBC’s “Today Show.”
“All the fruits, including the pomegranate, are from California, except for our vanilla beans. Our Province lavender is grown at Matanzas Creek Winery, just up the road. There are high expectations here in the Wine Country, not only because great wine requires great food, but also because the climate here makes such agricultural bounty available to us.”
When Karin moved to the Wine Country she went from commercial to residential architecture. “I pride myself on the heart of the home, the kitchen. The syrups go hand in hand with that. And of course, the design of the bottles is part of what I enjoy as well.”
It’s important to Karin to keep it local and artisanal. “We hand make our syrups in small batches. They are at least 30% juice,” she explains. “We know the growers of our fruits. We hand zest the lemons and use pure cane sugar and natural, fresh ingredients to capture the regional flavors of the Wine Country.”
New for the company are Karin’s unique Vanilla Extracts. Blending the floral and aromatic qualities of Tahitian vanilla with the robust flavors of Madagascar vanilla garnered her a gold star award from Santé magazine. Her Vanilla Bean Extract Crush is also a blend, with the added component of vanilla bean seeds. The vanilla bean syrup made with this extract won a silver award at the Fancy Food Show.
Karin says, “We like to think of Sonoma Syrups as a healthy indulgence!”