Don Christopher, founder of Gilroy, Calif.-based Christopher Ranch LLC, knew he had found something special from Italy 55 years ago.

The something special was a garlic variety that Christopher Ranch named Monviso.

“It’s becoming the most preferred variety,” said Patsy Ross, director of marketing. “It’s taking over more and more of our total volume and has been for several years.”

To celebrate the Monviso garlic – the only heirloom garlic commercially grown in the U.S. today, Ross said Christopher Ranch has developed a new display carton featuring the Monviso name.

Though the company’s founder was convinced the variety was special, Ross said it was a third party endorsement years later that proved to be a catalyst.

“An executive chef for a chain of restaurants told us the Monviso variety was the only garlic he wanted for his restaurants,” she said.

Testing and research found that most consumers shared the chef’s opinion, Ross said. The Monviso garlic is not the easiest variety to grow, but the product is worth the extra effort, she said.

“We’re proud of its heritage with us,” Ross said. “Nobody else has the Monviso variety.”