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.