My AHA Moment
In 2015 as the distillery was taking shape, I also got another obsession. It was grapes.
I knew the basics of grapes and winemaking, but I had no clue as to what it really takes to make a product that is truly exceptional.
It's funny to consider that I lived 15+ years in Washington state but I never knew the breadth, quality, and varieties of grapes that grow in the region.
And as the distillery became a reality I was on the hunt. For the best grape, I could distill to produce an exceptional grape brandy.
Research upon research, from talking to winemakers and growers to books and online. Nobody was really doing Brandy in the state to a level I thought was good or viable.
Most distilleries use wine that is old, and passed from wineries to distilleries, mostly because there is some type of fault with the wine usually at steep discounts, so the brandy produced is a by-product and a “what the hell” decision not a first-class citizen.
During my research of wine and grapes, I came across Riesling. Riesling, I thought? That’s the mass-produced $5 sweet wine no?
Turns out I was wrong, Riesling as Jancis Robinson in her book Wine Grapes, says it best.
“Riesling is one of the World’s greatest white wine grapes, capable of making particular geographically expressive and long-lived wines at all levels of sweetness”
With that in mind and the fact that Riesling grows exceptionally good in Washington State, I pulled the trigger.
So in the Winter of 2016, I wrote my first check to purchase 4 tons of Washington Riesling.
A nerve-racking year with crushing and fermentation complete, it went into the still, for a long and slow pot distillation, and once the distillate coming off the still I knew I had hit the jackpot. I have found my grape. My AHA Moment happened that cold Winter of 2016 distilling this beautiful grape.
Those 4 tons, produced only two barrels of brandy, that end up being our flagship Baton Brandy. Ever since then we grew our purchases and barrels, every year a little bit more with the goal of producing world-class brandies that will re-define what American Brandy is.