Frequently Asked Questions:

Do you have a Promo Code box?

We don’t use a Promo Code box, but we do offer free samples with every order. After you’ve put whatever bottles you’d like to purchase in your shopping cart, tell us what you’d like for the two free samples. The place to tell us what the two 1.6oz samples should be is called Order Notes. You’ll find the Order Notes box at the bottom of the Checkout page, just below where you’ll type in your email address. Just tell us the names of the two freebies and we’ll include them with your order. Remember, if you go back to shopping on our site, copy anything you’ve typed in the Order Notes box. Any notes will disappear if you go back to look at anything on our site. If you miss the Order Notes box, you can send us an email at to tell us what you’d like for freebies.

Can I use the Chef AJ promotion on top of the mail order promotion?

No, the mail-order promotion is just another name for the Chef AJ promotion. It was really difficult to tell who was and wasn’t meaning to use the special, and we decided to open that special up to the general public with the new website under a different name so that everyone ordering from us online gets the two freebies with their order.

Are your products Gluten-Free?

Yes! Every balsamic vinegar and oil product we make is gluten-free.

Are your products Sodium-Free?

Yes! A product is labeled sodium-free if it contains, by F.D.A. order, no more than 5 mg of sodium per serving. at 2 mg per serving, our balsamic vinegars and oils are in fact sodium free and even our spice-blended flavors such as the 7-Herb Italian are made using sodium-free seasonings we buy from our friends in the SOS-free community.

Are your products Oil-Free?

All of our products list their ingredients in their product page and label, every product on our “Balsamic (Oil-Free)” page is oil-free. To help minimize confusion for our SOS-free friends we moved all of our olive oil and vinaigrette (vinegar + oil) products to their own page, “Vinaigrettes and Oils.” If you are unsure if your product contains oil, just check the ingredients list on the product page or label.

Are your products sugar-free?

No processed or cane sugars are added to our balsamic vinegar to sweeten it, anything grown from grapes has the natural sugar of the grape juice. Our balsamic vinegar is a concentrated product with the consistency of a syrup, meant to be used in teaspoons rather than tablespoons. This is achieved by reducing the balsamic vinegar by boiling the water off to make “grape must” which concentrates all the remaining ingredients allowing it to be used in much smaller quantities. Our Premium Dark and Premium White balsamic vinegar bases both have 7 grams per tablespoon of the naturally occurring sugar of the grapes, and are meant to be used in teaspoons per serving to finish recipes.

Do you use eco-friendly packaging?

Here at California Balsamic we aim to ship everything as eco-friendly as we can. Our philosophy over here is to re-use as much material as possible, our packing peanuts are biodegradable and can be disposed of the any compost bin as noted in the FAQ and on the packing slip in every box. the bottle wraps we opt to use are corrugated cardboard sheets we actually make from the glass bottles cases themselves, both re-using every as much of our supply line as possible as well as eliminating the need for a plastic bubble wrap bag around the glass bottle. Any air pockets or foam that we use comes from a neighbor facility that installs solar panels and batteries for renewable power in our county. Those solar cells and batteries are shipped to them in the hard foam to protect them as the solar cells are delicate and the batteries are dangerous if damaged, if we do not step in and re-use those supplies they go straight to landfill. By re-using that foam we can make sure that the materials are re-used, as well as more safely pack our glass. As a small company doing flat-rate shipping, minimizing our break rate is essential as every broken bottle we have to pay for and then pay to re-ship. Re-using that Styrofoam that would otherwise go to landfill from that solar installation company was for us a perfect compromise between protecting our bottles, and giving plastic already headed for landfill one last use protecting glass.

If you would prefer for us to send your items using only biodegradable packing peanuts in the future, we can always accommodate this. The best way to do so is to add “biodegradable supplies only” in your order notes along with your samples and promotions. If you do that, then the only materials in your box that wouldn’t be able to be recycled/composted would be the packing tape and and rubber bands.

Does your Balsamic Vinegar contain lead?

Balsamic vinegar carries lead picked up from the earth during the agriculture of the grapes before the grapes are boiled down and the vinegar thickens. Regulatory policies generally require a safety margin of 1,000 fold which means that foods have to be listed as containing lead if they have lead levels more than 1/1,000th of the level that causes an effect in humans. Our premium dark and light vinegar bases come in via lab analysis at a lead level of 19.7 parts per billion, an average person would need to consume 1 to 2 cups of our balsamic vinegar per day for an extended period of time to even reach the Proposition 65 lead level minimum threshold here in California which includes a 1000-fold safety margin from there before it becomes hazardous to humans. in other words, incredibly low.

Do your products contain sulfites?

Fermentation naturally causes the production of sulfur dioxide, commonly referred to as “sulfites.” This is a naturally occurring by-product of the fermentation process used to make all wines and vinegars and most other fermented products. The sulfur dioxide present in balsamic vinegar is naturally occurring from the fermentation process, whereas the much higher levels of sulfur dioxide found in dried fruits for instance is often added as a preservative. Our balsamic vinegar contains an average of 200 parts per million from the vinegar process (20 milligrams per 100 grams). For reference, the levels found in most dried raisins and prunes off the shelf is between 500 and 2,000 parts per million. If you are extremely sensitive to sulfites there are a variety of balsamic vinegars that will label themselves “sulfite free.” They almost always achieve this by adding hydrogen peroxide to their product to neutralize the small amount of naturally occurring SO2. As a matter of practice we avoid adding any chemicals to our products, especially ones that we believe should stay in the first aid cabinet and not the kitchen.

Do your 1.6oz sample or 3oz travel plastic bottles contain BPA?

No, our 1.6oz sample or 3oz travel bottles are made of a durable PET plastic that is not made using BPA. We do these two smaller sizes in plastic instead of glass to provide a convenient “squeeze” bottle portioning of our thick rich balsamic, as well as to reduce breakage in shipping.

What is the shelf life of your products, and do they require refrigeration?

Our balsamic vinegars have an acidity level of 4%, making them shelf stable without refrigeration. Just keep them sealed with their airtight lid in a cabinet out of sunlight to minimize degradation. We generally suggest using our balsamic vinegars within 18 months for the best quality, using our rice bran oil vinaigrettes within 18 months, and using up our olive oil products within 12 months of opening.

Is your balsamic vinegar Organic?

Our balsamic vinegar base is non-GMO, but not certified organic. Some of our savory flavors use organic ingredients such as organic garlic, those ingredients are listed as such in the ingredients.

Are your products certified Kosher?

Our products are not certified Kosher. Because the grapes for balsamic vinegar are sourced from various vineyards across Modena and the adjacent regions we cannot guarantee that every vineyard that grows grapes for balsamic has also had their facility certified kosher.

Where is the nutritional information for your products?

Every balsamic vinegar and oil product we make has it’s nutritional information form on it’s product page, look underneath the photo.

I’m Sending My Order to a friend as a gift. Can I include a card?

We are always happy to customize an order with a gift card. To do so, simply include the message “Gift card note: ‘_______'” in your order notes during checkout. Remember to copy the note if you plan on doing anything other than proceeding directly to checkout, as leaving the checkout page there will delete your message. You can always check your order confirmation email to make sure that your note is in the “note” section. If you are concerned that the note did not make it in, simply email us at promptly and let us know so we can take care of it for you. 🙂

Can I purchase gift certificates for your product?

Yes! Email us at email us at and we are happy to help you with that, we do gift certificates individually.

Do you offer free shipping? What are your exceptions?

We charge a flat rate of 9.95 for every transaction placed through the website shipping to the Contiguous United States, and every order comes with the mail order promotion for two free $6 sample bottles with your purchase. This shipping fee is the same for one bottle and for 200 bottles, so be sure to pick up everything you want at the time in the one order. The two exceptions to the flat rate shipping policy are for non-contiguous states (Alaska and Hawaii), and for orders over four large bottles shipped to a PO box.

What is your policy for Alaska and Hawaii?

We can send a maximum of four large 12.7oz bottles or up to seven medium bottles (8.4oz) in a large Post Office Priority box.  We are not able to ship large orders (5 large bottles or more) to these states with our flat rate shipping policy, because they have to go air which is dramatically more expensive to ship.  Please call Thomas at 707 367-0155 before you place an order if you have questions about a specific shipment.

What is your policy for PO boxes?

We are able to ship a maximum of four large 12.7oz bottles or up to seven medium bottles (8.4oz) to PO Boxes. We are not able to ship large orders (5 large bottles or more) to a PO box, as those orders have to go through FedEx who the post office does not allow to deliver to their PO boxes. Please call Thomas at 707 367-0155 to see if your order can be sent to a PO Box.

Do you ship internationally?

Yes, however we do not do flat rate shipping on international orders. Shipping almost 2lb glass bottles internationally and safely is very expensive, if you would like to order internationally email us at so we can get you a quote.

Note: Presently we do not ship to the UK. The import changes, VAT tax, and associated shipping increases that took effect Jan 1 2021 to get the package through customs to you is simply more than a business our size can do in a cost effective manner for the small number of orders we were sending. We hope to be able to ship to the UK again in the future.

Can I customize my gift set/Chef AJ Sampler?

Yes. Use the Order Notes box at the bottom of the Checkout page to tell us what flavors you’d like in your Chef AJ Sampler or Gift Set. You can also ask for a complimentary hand written card for a gift going to someone. The card is blank on the inside and cute on the outside, and large enough for the note to be as long as you want. After writing customized flavors or gift card in the Order Notes section remember to copy it if you want to go back and look at our site again before proceeding to checkout, otherwise your note will be lost and you’ll have to re-type it.

What is SOS Free?

SOS free means that the flavor contains no processed sugars, oils, or sodium. Many of our customers follow a diet that discourages the use of any sugar, oil or salt. California Balsamic has been a sodium free company for over 35 years. Balsamic vinegar is naturally sodium free, oil free and we add no processed sugar as well.

What is the acidity of your Balsamic Vinegars?

The balsamic vinegars in our California Balsamic line are at a 4% acidity, much less tart than a lot of conventional vinegars. We do carry a separate line of flavors under our former company, “Tres Classique” using a more tart 6% acidity vinegar for those who prefer the heavier “bite” of a higher acidity vinegar. You can find what we carry of those still under the “Tres Classique” tab at the top of the website.

Why do you use flavorings for several of your balsamic vinegars?

Because we do direct mailing and handle our own shipping of our products, they have to be shelf-stable without refrigeration. The impact of this for most of our fruit flavors is that in order to do that safely oil-free and sodium-free, we have to use a flavoring base that is shelf-stable.

We have a company out of southern California that supplies our flavoring concentrates, but they will not disclose the exact formulation because of trade secrets policies. They are formulated from the fruits themselves as their base made into a shelf-stable concentrate and will trigger allergies and medication interactions just as their full fruit counterparts do. For example, our grapefruit flavoring is not safe for individuals whose medication interacts with negatively with grapefruit or citrus. For our non-fruit flavors and a few select citrus that we can do safely in this manner, we do use blended powders or fresh ingredients. Our most popular fresh ingredient flavors are: Sweet Heat, Teriyaki, Ruby Red Onion, Spice Traders Curry, and Garden Dill Mustard Seed.

We are unable to use essential oils in those flavors as our non-vinaigrette formulations have to remain oil-free, however in our non-oil-free product line we do carry the Electric Lemon and Pure Tangerine vinaigrettes do use Lemon and Tangerine essential oils as their flavoring.

Do your balsamic vinegars contain alcohol?

Anything done using fruit as a base cannot be guaranteed to have zero ethanol molecules, however our balsamic vinegar has such low levels of trace alcohol that you would likely have more alcohol exposure from the fruit juice in your fridge than from our balsamic vinegar. Unlike red wine vinegars which start as already fermented red wine which is aged for a short time and thus can have significant amounts of unconverted alcohol, balsamic vinegars start with really heavily boiled down fresh grape juice called grape must. The trace alcohol content in our 25star balsamic vinegar leftover from the fermenting process is less than .05ml per 100 ml, so less than .oo5% of the bottle. For context, regular orange juice or grape juice off the shelf can have as much as .092ml per 100ml of naturally occurring alcohol, putting the trace alcohol content of our vinegars at around or below the trace levels of the unrefined juices. In short, the alcohol level is generally around or below the levels in store bought fruit juices, balsamic does not start as wine and the alcohol levels come from working with fruit not from the vinegar process itself. The vinegar process actually works in reverse, oxidizing existing ethanol in the liquid INTO acetic acid. This process REMOVES alcohol content from the bottle, instead of adding it.

What is the best way to remove the foil seal from the 5oz, 8.4oz, and 12.7oz bottles?

Our bottles have a pull tab on the back of the foil, if that doesn’t take the seal off all the way then we recommend taking a butter knife and lifting up a piece of the foil there to rip off.. For our glass bottles tipping the bottle down and swiping with a knife like is generally not recommended, they are not made for it because of the base for the threads and instead of the knife gliding off of the end like a wine bottle they often hit that 90 degree angle ridge and all the force of the moving knife goes into that thin piece of glass. To avoid a sticky mess, and to make sure you get to enjoy your delicious bottle of balsamic on your food instead of on the floor, we NEVER recommend slicing the foil off with a knife.

Are your packing peanuts made from Styrofoam?

The packing peanuts we buy to pack your bottle in are completely biodegradable. You can test that yourself by getting one of the packing peanuts wet and watching it dissolve, made from a starch base.