Joseph Abrams ’23
With the rapid development of new storefronts, stadiums, and small businesses, Worcester is quickly becoming a sought after spot for day trips and nights out. The opening of Polar Park as well as the expansion of the downtown area have all attributed to this rise in foot traffic and overall interest. The newest venture to capitalize off this economic boom, American Vinegar Works, stepped away from the fanfare of the downtown area and took a small walk down College Hill last Friday for their grand opening at the Rotmans lot across Southbridge Street. American Vinegar Works, a Massachusetts vinegar production company, promises to be yet another valuable addition to the wave of enterprise flooding the city.
Situated behind the large furniture store and tucked away behind nearby buildings, it’s easy to miss the small factory, though the simple outside and intricate inside is a fitting symbol for the company’s product. Attendees were greeted by columns of vinegar barrels and promises of a coming harvest, as well as a showcase of the company’s product lines. Their signature “Apple and Pear Cider Hot Vinegar” was even featured in Vogue just this March.
After a few minutes of greetings, owner Rodrigo Vargas was finally ready to officially mark this grand opening. Surrounded by city officials and business partners, Vargas thanked the help of the city and expressed his excitement for the future. For the owner, being a part of the wave of “creative stores in the area” has been a very special experience for him. Surrounding city council members corroborated this sentiment, admiring the growth and innovation of Worcester small businesses. Once Vargas cut the ceremonial ribbon, American Vinegar Works was officially open for business and a tour of the plant was immediately underway.
To the credit of Vargas’ interior design skills, the plant truly seems larger than it may appear. Past the rows of vinegar barrels, all formerly used for the fermentation and storage of whiskey, was the meat of the production process. Lining the walls and connecting to one another through pipes were large stainless steel fermentation tanks, or fermenters. Accompanying these tanks was a larger, wooden tank nicknamed “Leaky Leroy.” This tank, which dwarfed even the tallest attendee, is known for compressing and expanding throughout the year as the temperature changes.
The entire process of vinegar fermentation can take up to a year, described by Vargas, which poses challenges on the business end. The Covid-19 pandemic only served to make the manufacturing period more strenuous, as the company was left without a stable flow of product: “Business is doing great, except for the fact that we haven’t had vinegar for a year,” said Vargas. However, with a long list of backorders and sales “as far out as California and Colorado in terms of retail sales and distribution,” American Vinegar Works is already back on their way to the top.
Vargas started the company in Lowell, Massachusetts in 2019 after becoming obsessed with vinegar products. He was becoming increasingly frustrated with the overly-acidic vinegar products he was finding in supermarkets and decided to try his own hand at the craft. Up until the opening of the Worcester site, Vargas made all 11 of his vinegar lines on location in Lowell. Along the way, the company has accrued an impressive crowd of returning online customers as well as placements in retail supermarkets. With appearances in Vogue and EdibleBoston, American Vinegar Works has climbed its way to the top of grocery lists everywhere, from vinegar connoisseurs’ to everyday shoppers’. With the opening of this local site, the success is sure to stay.