I had the privilege and honor to go up to WineShine winery (distillery), with 101winetours and the Corkdorks while they taped their radio show. It’s located in an industrial area called “Tin City” where a bunch of boutique wineries, breweries, and a distillery-WineShine got together and created an artisan community for those of us who lean toward the spirituous persuasion.
We arrived and they were brewing up a sugar and water mixture that they make into a caramel and then let burn and use in the distillation process. When it comes to their distilled spirits, they make very small batches, usually 5-10 gallon barrels, that they blend with flavors and infusions. The fact that brandy is very consistent allows for a very dependable product quality unlike the unpredictable variability in wines. The best part of making small batches is it allows for a lot of experimentation, so aside from all the flavors, they are venturing into vermouth (which they blend with between 24-33 botanicals) and bitters.
Patrick Brooks, Mark Sahaydak, and Don Burns are partnered in this venture each doing their part toward the success of the business. They are very unpretentious and love being in Paso and being able to do their own thing. I love how close the guys are too; they are proud local boys who are making local products. As Brandy is made from grape must they make sure they support local vineyards and wineries by getting must from them. Each of the guys participate in all areas of the distillery and are able do everything. They each have a different story as to why they got into the business. Don is a winemaker; Mark started making raspberry wine at age 14 when he lived near the Appalachian trail in Pennsylvania; and Patrick’s father was busted making moonshine in Tennessee, when he was a kid.
They use 2 different types of stills at WineShine a standard Copper Pot Still and their extra special, super secret home-made “Reflux” Still, which has a column packed with copper mesh. The distillate rises and “dances around” where it makes its way to the top for a double/triple distillation. After the brandies are distilled they are put into French and American oak barrels and for specific brandy like the oaked style they blend from both barrel types. It’s all about the time in the barrel that brings their hard work together so that the flavor and the “edges” are softened. All their brandy is unfiltered, though in some cases they are strained through a cheesecloth to capture the larger particulate matter. They wait until after the distillation process is complete to add the flavor infusions. On average the guys make 5 gallons of pure spirits a day. As mentioned earlier they love to experiment and not just with grapes, they are making a Nocino a liqueur made out of green walnuts-the skins are not quite ripe but the nut is. Additionally they are planning on making California-based rum and they have planted sugar cane acreage locally.
About half way through our tasting Eric from Hatch Restaurant came in with bags upon bags of delicious smelling and tasting food. Let me tell you if you haven’t eaten at, or of the Hatch you are SERIOUSLY missing out! That had to be some of the best rotisserie chicken I’ve ever had. As you regular followers know I am NOT SHEeats, in part because I’m a finicky eater. Typically when I eat chicken it’s always the breast meat, I don’t care for the drumsticks, but Eric handed me one while the guys were being interviewed and I literally couldn’t stop eating it!!! It was divine, as was the cream cheese grits, local coleslaw and onions caramelized over the embers of Central Coast red oak. He said their motto is “Comfort food with a Southern twist” and I think it’s stated perfectly.
The variety of flavored spirits that WineShine makes are many and the list reads like a what’s what of yumminess: Unoaked Straight Brandy, Oaked (French and American) Brandy, Turkish Fig, Mango-Ginger-Black Pepper Corn, Oaked Burnt Orange (their version of Grand Marnier), Hibiscus-Lemon (AKA the Panty Dropper), the local favorite Oaked Cinnamon (their version of Fireball) and Rye Brandy. I was lucky to taste all of them and walked away with a bottle of Hibiscus-Lemon but my next purchase will be the Oaked Cinnamon; however every one of them is delicious. They are also on the verge of releasing Pluot (a cross between a plum and an apricot) Brandy, and The Manhattan Project, basically Manthattans made with various whiskeys and brandys and then barrel aged. If you like spirits you would be hard pressed not to find at least one to take home. While I was there I was given this yummy take on a Hemingway Daiquiri drink recipe, so of course I’m passing it on to you.
(Note: all measurements are approximated and should be adjusted toward your liking)
2 1/2 oz Hibiscus-Lemon WineShine
3/4 oz Fresh squeezed Lime Juice
1/2 oz Fresh squeezed Red Grapefruit Juice
1/4 oz Simple Syrup
Put all ingredients to a blender and pulse until frothy. Pour into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a lime wheel.
2 cups Sugar
1 cup Water
Boil for 5 minutes EXACTLY.
The man banging on the door was yelling “Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms!” we just thought he was coming with supplies ~Patrick Brooks
Great up coming events: 11/21/15 Baconfest; 11/19/15 – 1/1/16 Rock the Holidays; 1/29-31/16 Cambria Annual Art & Wine Festival; 2/20/16 Blendfest on the Coast; 2/26-2/27/16 SLO Craft Beer Festival; 3/18-3/20/16 Vintage Paso: Zinfandel; 4/23/16 Taste of Pismo; 4/27/16 Wine Waves and Beyond; 5/19-5/22/16 Paso Robles Wine Festival