Miles River motion ages vinegar aboard skipjack Rosie Parks


Miles River motion ages vinegar aboard skipjack Rosie Parks

In cooperation with the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, Olivins Fine Olive Oils and Vinegars of St. Michaels, MD is producing a new balsamic vinegar with a Chesapeake connection.

On July 10, a small barrel of specially blended balsamic vinegar was placed in the hull of the 1955 skipjack, Rosie Parks, where it will remain for the next five months. During that time, the aging process of the vinegar will be accelerated by the gentle motion of the boat, which generally remains dockside along the Miles River at CBMM.

“Aging barrels aboard boats started out in history as a necessity, as most trade occurred over waterways,” explains CBMM’s Chief Curator, Pete Lesher. “A boat’s movement can speed up the process of aging, whether it’s spirits, vinegar, or another liquid. We’re very excited to taste the results of these efforts.”

The wooden barrel is made of toasted oak, which will flavor the vinegar. “Even the temperature changes aboard Rosie Parks will influence the taste of this special blend,” said Olivins Owner/Operator Bill Acosta. “The barrel expands and contracts as the temperatures rise and fall, infusing the vinegar with undertones of toasted oak.”

“The Rosie Parks has such rich history on the Chesapeake,” continued Acosta. “We not only wanted to create a special balsamic vinegar that gives people a real sense of place— with an exceptional taste—but also to support the museum in a meaningful way.”

Once the aging process is complete, Olivins will remove the barrel from aboard the skipjack and package the small batch balsamic vinegar in six-ounce bottles. The limited bottles will be sold as “Rosie Parks Balsamic Vinegar,” with a portion of every sale donated to CBMM.

The Rosie Parks, built in 1955 by legendary boat builder Bronza Parks for his brother, Captain Orville Parks, was named for their mother. CBMM purchased the Rosie Parks in 1975 from Captain Orville. Only 20 years old at the time, Rosie had a reputation as both the best maintained skipjack in the oyster dredging fleet and as a champion sailor at the annual skipjack races at Deal Island and Chesapeake Appreciation Days at Sandy Point. Now fully restored after a three-year overhaul, the Rosie Parks now serves as an ambassador for the museum, and the dwindling skipjack fleet, with the museum planning to race her in the Deal Island and Choptank River skipjack races later this year.