Paso Robles, CA — Wineries search for packaging that not only protects their products’ integrity but also solidly emphasizes convenience and prestige within the category. Villicana Winery’s new grape-based spirits sport ACI synthetic bartops to accomplish these goals.
Consumer response to Villicana Winery’s new grape-based spirits has far exceeded expectations, proprietors Alex and Monica Villicana are happy to report. In just three years, the Paso Robles, Calif., couple has shepherded production of their category-busting RE:FIND Vodka and RE:FIND Gin to 1,500 cases annually, with a leap to 3,000 cases within reach for 2015.
The recently awakened thirst for craft spirits is fueling the popularity of this innovative product line. Made from premium, ripe, red-wine grapes, RE:FIND Vodka and Gin are the result of a process that emphasizes perfection at every step, from the selection of base ingredients to clean fermentation to diligent distillation. In keeping with traditional premium packaging in the spirits category, they chose to use bartop closures from ACI Cork USA.
Winemaker Alex Villicana had more than two decades of winemaking under his belt before he ventured into this wine-related product extension. “These spirits are wonderful in cocktails with fresh ingredients, or simply sipping on their own,” he relates. “They are changing public perceptions of what spirits can be.”
The halo of sustainability conferred by repurposing saignée undoubtedly adds to the growing appeal. Disposing of the excess grape juice in the production of his fine wines has long troubled Villicana. In search of a solution, he bypassed traditional aged brandy in favor of a product that could be released right away. After years of trial and error, in 2011 he hit the sweet spot. The first year’s production used only his own juice, but “incredible” consumer response encouraged him to reach out to other local wineries. Last year he collected 23,000 gallons–the equivalent of 150 tons of farmed grapes-which would otherwise have gone to waste.
As a long-time ACI Cork USA customer, purchasing 45×24 AC-1 natural wine corks for his award-winning estate wines, Villicana turned to his trusted supplier for closures for the new spirits line.
Sold in 375 ml and 750 ml clear glass bottles, RE:FIND Vodka and Gin are closed with ACI bartops with a wood top and a synthetic shank to preserve the taste and character of the clear spirits. Each bottle requires a different bartop diameter (19.5 and 22.5mm), which can make ordering complicated for the craft distiller, but ACI is “very accommodating of our need to place orders in small batches,” Alex Villicana says.
The Villicana Winery and tasting room are located at 2725 Adelaida Road, Paso Robles, CA 93446, (805) 239-9456. For more information on products from Villicana Winery and RE:FIND Distillery, go to www.villicanawinery.com and www.refinddistillery.com
ACI CORK USA, celebrating its 10th anniversary in the United States, is located at 2870 Cordelia Road, Suite 150, Fairfield CA 94534. Telephone: (707) 426-3566.
Visit us at Unified Wine & Grape Symposium, Booth # 1005,
January 27-29, 2015, Sacramento, CA