Turning Wine into Vodka: Welcome to Re:Find Spirits!

By Brian Lemay 1 comment

Welcome to beautiful Paso Robles, California! Today, you’re in for a real treat. A two-fer in a way: craft wine and craft spirits. Why? Because we’re turning wine into vodka! Hi, I’m Suzanne Henricksen, a researcher and storyteller by trade; and a world explorer and drink local enthusiast by heart. I’m traveling the world to celebrate and share the people, the process, the stories, and the innovations behind craft alcohol. And I can’t wait to share our amazing finds with all of you. So, let’s get drinking. Crafty Cask style. Today, we’re going to meet husband and wife team,
Alex and Monica, who after 18 years of making incredible wines at their Villicana
Winery decided that even the unused juice from their wine was too good to not do SOMETHING with. Alex thank you so much for having us here at Re:Find Distillery. Well, I appreciate you taking the time to come and see what we’re doing. So, tell me, you and your wife Monica were making incredible wines for your winery, Villicana Winery, and something kinda kept bothering you. Yeah, in an effort to make a really high quality wine, we pull a certain amount of saignée before fermentation starts, and it used to go unused. Tell me a little bit about the process. So, you have that unused juice, what happens from there? So, we take that juice. You immediately have to distill it. That first distillation is actually the most crucial because the wine is in perfect condition at that point. So, if you distill it at that point, you’re just highlighting the good things that are in that wine We have kind of a specialty still. It’s considered a hybrid still because you
can produce any spirit that you want in here. The kettle is actually where the wine or the spirits go, and it’s basically steam heated. The alcohol vapor comes to the bottom of our column, and slowly works its way up, basically getting a higher and higher alcohol and purer and purer flavors. And it finally comes out of our condenser,
out of the parrot, as we call it. And that’s when you’re basically getting that high proof spirit. And when it’s coming off the still, what actually legally makes it a vodka is that it’s 95% pure alcohol or higher. Wow. Yeah, it’s pretty incredible. So, you’re kind of making me thirsty talking about this. All this high proof alcohol, should we? I know where to find some. We’re right over here at the tasting bar. Awesome, Let’s go do it! Come on over. Re:Find, it’s kind of a team effort here. I’m gonna introduce you to my wife, Monica. Nice to meet you. Nice to meet you. She’s gonna kind of explain a little bit what we’re doing with the spirits, and let you try some of this. Awesome. Thanks so much, I appreciate it. So, I’m gonna have you taste our vodka so
that you can taste it pure and understand the flavors and the textures in your mouth
before I pour you through the flavored vodka. Perfect. I’m excited to taste it! So the first thing that you’ll notice is that there’s a little bit of texture on it, and that’s because of it’s derivative of the grape. There’s a lot of what’s called glycerol in
it, and it coats your mouth and gives you a really nice sweetness to it. This is delicious. This is really great! Wonderful. You’re right, I could sip this. And I’m not typically a vodka girl. And so, I could totally sip this though. We do not filter our spirits. We believe that if you start with a very high quality base material, that if you do a very high quality fermentation, and then only extract the glycerol, the good alcohols, there’s no reason to filter it because when you’re filtering, you’re actually taking out all of the flavor and the personality with it. And, right now, people are understanding that they want to taste the flavor of their spirit. So, next I have up for you a very unique spirit. It’s actually this vodka that you just sipped here but then what we do is we age it in our used whiskey barrels. Oh, interesting. So, after we pull the whiskey out of the barrels, we put the vodka in it and give it some time to age in there. So, what you get, (Suzanne: wow) because we’re grape based, (Suzanne: wow!) it has a slight sweet characteristic to it and then it also gets the nice whiskey characteristic. So it drinks, actually like a bourbon. And if I don’t tell them it’s a vodka, they
have no idea! Absolutely, no, this has some really nice like caramel notes but very light. Yes. It’s almost like a bourbon-light. It’s really delicious (Monica: very enjoyable) I can see why people really like this. Let me also give you a little sample of our
kumquat liqueur. So, tell me a little bit more about kumquats. You don’t see that in alcohol very often. Kumquats are very interesting. For the most part, they’re decorative and they don’t really get used in the culinary industry. Oh, interesting. So, for us, our whole purpose is finding a
reuse, which is where we got Re:Find, and then refining it into top shelf spirits. So, for us the kumquat was a natural because we found a reuse for the kumquats. That’s great. That’s amazing. And it’s really quite good! I mean, you’re gonna get me into trouble with your spirits here because all of them, I could just drink straight! Well thank you, thank you. And for us, it’s again, it’s the authenticity of we ferment everything, we distill everything, we age and bottle everything And so, that’s really what makes us truly craft. Yeah, absolutely. I mean, you guys are quintessentially, kind of, a craft distillery. I mean, you really are doing everything that, when someone says craft, this is what it should mean in it, right? Absolutely. So, I really appreciate you taking the time today and walking me through some of your amazing spirits Thank you so much, Monica. I really appreciate it. Thank you! Thank you for coming. It’s stories like these that we heard from
Alex and Monica today that really go to show all alcohol is NOT created equal. This is about family, passion, respect for the ingredients and land, and ultimately love of the craft. So next time that you’re at you’re favorite
bar or bottle shop, make sure to ask them to carry Re:Find Spirits, because after all,
supporting local craft producers and introducing all of you to unique and incredible drinks
is what we’re all about at The Crafty Cask. Until next time, drink craft, and drink local! I’m back! As a quick reminder, the Crafty Cask is a scrappy little startup but we have big ideas and plans to help all of you discover and
drink amazing craft alcohol. So, if you like what you see, please hit like
and leave us some comments below. The more support we get, the more we’ll be able to create even better content for all of you, and bring our amazingly fun vision to life. And of course, don’t forget to subscribe to
our YouTube channel here, or our mailing list here. Thanks so much, and happy craft drinking!

1 Comment

Adonis McNeal

Feb 2, 2018, 5:36 pm Reply

If you are ever in Seattle, please look up Glass Distillery. Would love to pour our Vodka's for you.

Leave a Reply