Ulli was born and raised in Austria in the northern Alps. Farmers in her hometown have been distilling fruit brandy for centuries – and some of them are still “moonshining” to this day, thereby avoiding steep liquor taxes stemming back to the days of the Habsburg emperors’ bureaucracy. Thankfully, the quality of the Austrian brandies has improved significantly, and Ulli is loading up her suitcases every time she travels back to Austria! After moving to California, Ulli became an attorney and small business owner, running a successful real estate company. Feeling the urge to re-invent herself at least once a decade, Ulli is now pursuing her dream of owning a distillery on the California coast.
Caesar was born and raised in New York, but he spent the summers of his childhood at his grandparent’s home in the Dominican Republic. True to his Dominican heritage, Caesar is a connoisseur of fine liquors – not only rum, but especially whiskey and gin are of great interest to him. Caesar spent his early career as a professional athlete – he was a jockey riding thoroughbred race horses. He moved on to managing a large Northern California equestrian event facility. During his travels to Austria with Ulli, he started working with a gold-medal winning Austrian distiller, who introduced him to the art of distilling.
Growing up in Austria, Ulli was familiar with the typical alpine-region fruit brandies produced by local farmers. Truth be told, most of these brandies were not particularly good! Many of the farmers used low quality fruit, and most did not truly understand the fine art of distilling. Many years later, during one of her trips back to Austria, Ulli was re-introduced to the fruit-based brandies, and much to her own surprise, she fell in love with them. The Austrian fruit brandies have undergone a massive renaissance during the last two decades. What used to be a harsh, unrefined product has now evolved into one of the finest distilled spirits available anywhere! Modern distilling techniques, combined with selection of higher quality fruit, have resulted in some extremely tasty brandies!
Ulli was so enthused by these liquors that she began to explore the idea of importing some of these amazing brandies to the United States. However, most of the Austrian artisan distillers are small operators, strictly limited by antiquated laws in the quantities they are allowed to produce, and prohibited from exporting their products. The “red tape” these small producers would have had to go through with the Austrian bureaucrats to allow them to sell their liquor abroad was prohibitive.
Not to be deterred, and having to find another way to get her “fruit brandy fix”, Ulli and Caesar began exploring the idea of opening their own distillery. They soon realized that all the ingredients for successfully doing so are available right here in California – high quality fruit and grain, excellent water and, last but not least, consumers who value artisanal, locally produced drinks as much as they appreciate sustainably grown foods. And so the idea was born to start a distillery from scratch, right here on the San Mateo Coast.
It is still Ulli’s dream to someday bring some of these wonderful Austrian brandies to the United States and make them available here, but in the meantime, let’s see what we can produce here!