After winemakers de-stem, crush and begin to ferment grapes, what happens to the “leftovers” like skins, seeds and unused juice that float to the top of the tanks? Some folks toss out the residue, while others repurpose it in landscaping.
But a number of SLO County entrepreneurs have found creative ways to sustainably distill those grape leftovers into excellent quality spirits, from brandy and gin to grappa and liqueurs. Distilleries are popping up all over the county, producing traditional spirits such as whiskey, bourbon, and rye, along with inventive potions like pomegranate-infused brandy, barrel-aged gin, and apple cider vodka.
Many distilleries cluster in and near Paso Robles. To find them, download a map from the Paso Robles Distillery Trail website, which can be found, here. The trail loops around West Paso Robles along Adelaida Road, Vineyard Drive, and Highway 46 West.
If you’d really like to immerse yourself in the “spirit world,” splurge on a Distillery Tour and Mixology Class at Allegretto Vineyard Resort in Paso Robles. The three-day, two-night curated package begins with behind-the-scenes tours of three Central Coast distilleries (lunch included), a cocktail mixing class and a four-course dinner. For details, call 805/369-2500 or visit their website here.
This story was originally published in the 2018 summer issue of Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine.