The first Wine Country Distillery Festival was celebrated on Feb. 9 in Petaluma where hundreds of spirit fans and producers gathered at an event that connected consumers and producers.

Close to 20 distilleries presenter their best efforts to the crowd of thirsty fans.

The venue counted with a diverse lineup of established and renowned producers like Charbay Distillery based in Ukiah, whos family affair transcends generations, as well as an exciting new wave of producers dedicated to excel and appeal to different markets.

Some of the up-and-coming distilleries that we had the opportunity to become acquainted with include New Alchemy Distilling with vase in the El Dorado Hills producing a variety of Gins and a popular White Devil Whiskey coming from a set of young and energetic friends dedicated to experimenting with new ingredients.

Spirit Works in Sonoma, established in 2013, and their proposition includes a series of Gin, Sloe Gin and Whiskey, which has gained traction amongst popular mixologists in the Bay Area.

Napa’s own Loch and Union Distillery focuses its efforts in producing a stellar Gin. Their story is unique. It is a group of friends, including a brewmaster, who spent time abroad only to come to the Napa Valley to start a Distillery. One of their unique aspects is using recognized cult Napa Valley producer Shafer Vineyards’ previously used barrels to finish their Gin program.

A fun and exciting project is the Falcon Distillery, which spreads their wings from Amaros to Liquors and Gin. Their Fernet San Francisco is taking over the Bay Area and becoming popular amongst the growing bar crowds.

The Graton Distilling Company focuses on Gin and Vodka under their D. George Benham’s project using Buddha’s Hand and Meyer Lemon citrus, cardamom and star anise for their Gin and their Whiskey project Redwood Empire producing American Whiskey with passion and precision.

Griffo Distillery has in charge a power couple, Michael and Jenny Griffo, with Michael leading the distilling efforts produces a series of Gin, Vodka and Whiskey.

Young & Yonder Spirits out of Healdsburg, was established in 2013 by Josh and Sarah Opatz, brings excitement and innovation into the distillate world. They produce a series of spirits that include a Vodka, Gin, Whiskey and an out-of-this-world Absinthe that includes a mountain of ingredients in their recipe — ginger, anise, tarragon, peppermint and turmeric ideal on its own with an ice cube or in a cocktail.

Aside from the spirit producers, there was a range of other beverages, including Revive Kombucha out of Petaluma with a wide range of products that include an assertive Mocha Java Coffee Kombucha and a Yerba Mate that is simply delicious.

A cocktail competition enlightened the event with a handful of local bar experts using local ingredients and, of course, some of the named spirits. The competition winners were decided by the attendees, which made for a tough and fair fight.

The event was successful considering it gathered the attention of hundred of enthusiasts from California who enjoyed meeting new faces in the spirits world and instantly became lifelong supporters of their craft.

I’m really hoping to see this event develop in years to come and to grow exponentially, bringing consumers and producers together unlike any other event of its kind!

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Eduardo can be reached at eduardo@sakedrinker.com.