PLAZA AQUA FISH FARM
As pioneers of farming Sturgeon for caviar, our mission is to provide quality caviar that rivals the traditional imported varieties. By offering an alternative to the caviar harvested from wild Sturgeon and indoor chemically treated international farms, we can alleviate the demand for imported caviars thereby ensuring an abundant and consistent supply of caviar from around the world for generations to come. Equally important for us, and for the survival of wild Sturgeon, is to educate our consumers on the importance of choosing sustainable caviar.
We are already seeing how top chefs and gourmet aficionados are switching their loyalty from Caspian caviar to California farmed Sturgeon caviar, thus embracing and supporting this crucial movement. The more successful we are in educating our consumers, the more we can help change the paradigm for how America's professional and amateur chefs perceive and eat caviar.
Today, we're proud that our farm is recognized as a world leader in sustainable Sturgeon production. Our proprietary tank-farming techniques have significantly reduced the threat to declining wild stocks, while our use of water from our own natural aquifers and unique recycling programs have made us truly earth-friendly.
In fact, our farm is virtually its own micro-ecosystem: the filtered water ultimately passes through a 5-acre hydroponic pond. This whole process is designed to clean and recharge the waters so that our fish can swim in the most pristine and mineral rich waters. That means virtually no mercury, residual pesticides, pollutants or chemicals are found in our waters.
While our acclaimed Royale grade is cultivated right here from our California aqua farm, our entire selection of products come from sources that have aligned themselves with our pledge towards sustainability. Our commitment to the planet is a big one, but it gives you an idea why the nation's top chefs choose our caviar.
Remember, caviar is not just a food, it’s a celebration of life so enjoy!
Our Signature Osetra Caviar Farm
Our exclusive Osetra farm features the pristine waters of Lake Kardjali, located in the heartland of Bulgaria, nestled below the beautiful virgin Rhodopi Mountains. The lake is 32 kilometers long with an average depth of about 100 meters giving it ample volume to support aquaculture. The latitude of the lake is the same as southern Black and Caspian Seas, home to the most prized Sturgeon species from an origin standpoint, a key factor in helping us mimic the fish’s natural environment and quality. This factors greatly in our ability to produce a farmed caviar that is renewable, delicious, and healthy for you. In fact, thousands of years ago Sturgeons used to inhabit such big freshwater basins exactly like we have in Kardjali. When humans appeared, Sturgeons had to survive and thus adapted their biology to safer deep waters, at which point the Black and Caspian Seas became their home. However, Sturgeon could not adapt their reproduction cycle to account for salt water, that’s why wild Sturgeon still enter big freshwater rivers when they are ready to spawn.
Lake Kardjali, with its clean mountain snow source, is the prime drinking water for many towns/villages within Bulgaria as the water quality is considered to be amongst the best found in Europe. Situated on basaltic soil, free of contaminants and pollution, our farm is placed within a completely natural environment allowing us to avoid the use of hormones and chemical filters used at most farms. When we started with Sturgeon 16 years ago, we had a small stock of a few hundred; at the same time, we owned a huge carp farm with a lot of spare room. We decided to test Sturgeons in a very low density environment emulating their wild counter parts to see if we could create a safe, relaxed home. Over time we kept the low density as we found it was a key factor to the clean flavors and high quality production. Similar to the adage that happy cow makes great cheese, happy Sturgeon produce world class roe!
Currently, we have a robust stock of healthy Russian Sturgeon along with one of the largest stocks of farmed Beluga, an exciting future project. We make it a point of emphasis to still hold on the same fish density as when we started, despite the fact that we theoretically could produce ten times our current volume; this helps our Osetra caviar standout versus our competition. Taking things a step further. our fish receive 30% of their food naturally as small fish that enter the sea cages from the lake. Staying true to our mantra “quality over profit,” our end products are perfect in fit and finish. Our signature farmed Osetra delivers quality on par with Mother Nature.
In our farm, most feeding, grading, and grain inspection are done manually by a small but very experienced and caring crew. It may be hard to believe but our Sturgeons distinguish us from other people visiting the farm.
Taking over eight years from start to finish, our caviar production is a labor of love. Our channel system is fed directly with mountain water through gravity, avoiding the use of electric pumps. With a volume of flow over 500 liters per second, we keep the farm fresh and oxygenized. Lake Kardjali is of glacial origin, making it a rather pristine environment and ecosystem. By design, we avoid water recirculation, allowing our farm to imitate the real flow of water as if a river was running through our facilities. Further, the natural cold waters play a big role in keeping the flavors optima; cold water is a key factor in producing clean flavors along with a good textural pop.
Sturgeons have a long breeding and production cycle and are amongst the most challenging types of aquaculture. That is why it is so important to be extremely familiar with the species, and to master its breeding technique. This helps the end product become as consistent as possible. There are four main factors that make this possible: the natural environment, strict technical and sanitary controls under which our Sturgeon are bred, the use of our perfected “house recipe” to process caviar, and finally the traceability of the fish from farm to table.
All of our caviar and further processes have been certified and approved by the applicable authorities. Domestically with HACCP, Fish and Wild Life Services, and the FDA, in the European Union with PP-34F, and lastly our exports are approved by CITES (Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species). We then take it a step further with batch codes adhered to the bottom of every jar/tin of caviar we provide allowing for full traceability from farm to table.