Raise Your Glass: The Spirits of Sonoma County 2014

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Raise Your Glass: The Spirits of Sonoma County 2014

While great wines may be Sonoma County's forte, the spirits of Sonoma may well be on their way to making a bigger name for themselves than ever before in the New Year.

Did you know that while wineries and breweries have been allowed to offer tastings and sell their products directly to the public in California, distillers of spirits have not enjoyed the same luxury? Well, as odd as it may seem, those have been the rules of the game in the Golden State for decades. That is until now.

On Sept. 26, 2013, Gov. Jerry Brown signed AB 933, a new law that will, for the first time in nearly eight decades, allow California's producers of spirits to offer paid tastings of up to six, one-fourth-of-one-ounce tastes per individual per day beginning on Jan. 1, 2014.

And all of this is, of course, brilliant news for Sonoma County's small distilleries and the likes of Sonoma's Fred Groth (co-founder, with his wife Amy, of Prohibition Spirits, HelloCello and the Indigenous Spirits Lab) who, after having been instrumental in getting AB 933 signed, is now already busy at work planning personalized experiences and events offering insight into the creation of artisanal spirits.

Like neighboring wineries, the Groths hope to offer patrons a peak into their world by delivering an 'experience' that goes beyond simple tasting and ventures into the intricate steps that are part and parcel of creating memorable spirits.

One example of what's on tap for the Groth's 2,000 square-foot warehouse beginning in 2014 is a private Whiskey Appreciation tour in which visitors will learn about the role of aging and mash bills, and then sample barreled whiskeys and personalized blends.

Also look to the Groths to pull back the veil on the making of their signature line of alcoholic 'cellos' infused with lemons, oranges, and figs soaked in brandy sourced from local grapes. Ditto for Hooker's House Bourbon, which will likely also get its own exploratory experience courtesy of the Groths.

And the good news is that HelloCello is but one of five distilleries in Sonoma County! ((For a complete list click here.)

Find more info about things to do, restaurants, hotels & lodging and gay travel in Sonoma County.




Duane Wells