It is no wonder that Californians have been making brandy as some of the first to travel to and live in California were Spanish monks who established Spanish missions. In order to sustain themselves the monks planted vineyards and also made brandy.
In those early years, one of the grape varieties that was planted was the MIssion grape variety. After tasting a wine made with Mission grapes, we understood why it was common place to add spirits to the wine to make it more likable. A document notes that brandy exports had begun by 1769.
According to the Coppery and Kings website, “By 1784 brandy production had moved to Upper California as well. Padre Pablo Mugartegul had a small pot still converting wine to brandy. The Franciscan fathers shipped brandy around Cape Horn to Spain. By 1898, at least five vineyards in California were producing wine and brandy.”
More recently distilleries located in California were only allowed to pour very small tastings. If a visitor was interested in purchasing a bottle of the spirits, the distillery was not legally allowed to sell it. The distiller had to direct the consumer to another shop that stocked its spirits.This all changed on January 1, 2016 when the law changed and consumers were allowed to purchase up to three bottles per day, if the purchase was accompanied by an instructional tasting.
The modern artisan distillery movement began on America's West Coast. Our first distillery visit in California, was in 2016.
Visit these distilleries that advertise with Distilling - Wine Trail Traveler.