Dana Acker -  Master Distiller

Dana Acker - Master Distiller

Who we are

WRC Distillery isn’t just the new kid on the block. We received our Distilled Spirits Plant license in 2007. We have enjoyed and still enjoy being North Carolina’s first and oldest winery owned and partnered distillery. We’ve been known by several names over the years, but it’s still us, still the same place, and still the same friendly folks keeping the wheels turning in pursuit of authentic NC grown, and NC produced quality adult beverages.

We’re also known as “the folks with the cage.” In the early days, the government wasn’t entirely comfortable with having a functioning distillery inside of a winery. In lieu of building a separate facility, we were given the option of segregating the distillery from the winery by the means of a lockable, 10 foot high chain link fence, with which we did forthwith comply. We joked with local Law Enforcement Agents as to where else might they find someone running a liquor still out in the wilds of West Yadkin County, NC that came with their own cell? They appreciated our cooperation.

While not the original business plan, existing laws and financial concerns at the time dictated that the distillery primarily existed to serve the winery. Refusing to be hampered by said constraints, we purposed to take the lemons we were given, and turn them into lemonade.

 Our high-tech operation

Our high-tech operation

We embarked upon a program of producing brandy from our estate grown grapes, which we fermented and then distilled to over 170 proof, to be used in the manufacture of a line of fortified wines and meads. These wines fit neatly into the diverse selection of wines that we offer to the many wonderful friends and customers who so loyally support our efforts.

Our new fortified wines and meads developed an impressive following, so much so that certain ones which we initially intended to be holiday themed, or only seasonally offered, soon became year round members to our lineup. What can we say? Christmas wines all year long. Oh well, as they say, “…one must suffer if one desires to sing the blues.”

While describing the production of our fortified wines to our tasting room and festival attending patrons, questions naturally came up as to our distillation operations. In attempting to answer their inquiries, we were inevitably asked as to when and if our spirits might be available to taste and purchase. Bound by strict laws, we had to politely say “no,” or at least, “not yet.” We loved our public, but not so much that we would risk doing hard time for them.

But that didn’t stop the questions from being asked over and over and over again, until there were more people asking about the spirits than not. Economics and legal constraints being somewhat more relaxed than they were back in the early days, we finally decided to stop just sticking our toe in the water to see how warm or cold it was, and plunge right in head first.

Mentioning the real possibility of our professionally entering the distilled spirits beverage market was tantamount to announcing that Elvis had returned from the dead, and that he would be appearing in concert in our tasting room soon. Questions about “if” rapidly and excitedly transitioned to “when?”

Our distilling operation shifted into high gear, and suddenly…it was on! But as ramped up as the operation became, and the higher the anticipation continued to rise, we soon discovered that nothing is ever as simple as it might look. Dealing with both Federal and State government bodies presented a host of new challenges and obligations; of which failure to comply would very likely insure we would be continuing our new operation by making hooch in a federal penitentiary.

 Dana and Kevin Elder -  Windsor Run Cellars Winemaker

Dana and Kevin Elder - Windsor Run Cellars Winemaker

To be fair, the various agencies with which we had to deal, while quite exacting in their demands, on the other hand, proved to be most professional, cordial, and helpful in their interactions with us. There have been many items in a long check list of responsibilities incumbent on us to complete, and day by day, and item by item, we’ve ticked them off the list one by one, until…here we are.

The road has been long. The business as it stands today, nearly 12 years in the making, has gone through many changes, faced many challenges, and has seen more than its share of hurdles over which to jump. From owners and master enablers Chuck and Jamey Johnson, to the collaborative, not to mention, conspiratorial winemakers and distillers, Kevin Elder and Dana Acker, to all our dedicated vineyard workers and tirelessly ever smiling hospitality staff, we all feel it was worth every step of the journey.

Robert Pirsig, author of “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance,” after an almost lifetime pursuit of the meaning of the word “quality,” finally concluded that the best term for defining quality was…“caring.” We are proud of our products, and feel that our spirits reflect a level of quality that can only come from the loving care we impart to and receive from the people and processes that all add up to our White Widow, Shadow Hawk, and Killer Bee distilled spirits products. As people who enjoy fine spirits ourselves, we honestly and humbly offer the sincere work of our hearts and hands to you, both good friends, and to you good friends we haven’t met yet for your enjoyment as well.

We cordially invite you to visit us, take a tour of our distillery, and to taste our liquors. You have the option of purchasing from us, or we will be most happy to give directions to one of our fine NC ABC stores, either near you, or in the direction you may be travelling. Salud!

WRCD - bottles.jpg