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North Bay Business Journal

Monday, February 24, 2014, 6:10 am

Hospitality & Tourism: Startup high-end distiller expands in RP

Also: Santa Rosa airline flights, North Bay hotel metrics rise

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    Dan Verel, Business Journal Staff ReporterSeeking to capitalize on increased consumer interest in craft distilleries, 1512 Spirits in Rohnert Park is hoping to highlight and expand its presence in the North Bay.

    The four-person whiskey and bourbon distiller, headed by Adam Spiegel, recently leased a 1,600 square-foot production facility, bringing its total space to 4,000  at 5701 State Farm Rd., up from the 750 square feet that it started with. He plans to double production of its small-batch aged bourbons and whiskeys.

    After buying out his founding partner, Salvatore Cimino, Mr. Spiegel said the name of the distillery will soon change to Sonoma County Distilling Company, partly to reflect the region’s growing reputation as a hub for craft spirits and beer.

    “I wanted to bring the name into the brand,” he said. “This area has allowed us to have some really great influences.”

    The small distillery, which uses locally sourced water from Lake Sonoma and Cobb Mountain, currently produces about 300 gallons of mostly rye and wheat whiskey per month, a number that Mr. Spiegel would like to double. But he doesn’t want to grow the production too large, so as not to lose the small, craft distillery essence.

    “We’re producing a product in a small way for a big world,” Mr. Spiegel said. The product currently has limited but targeted distribution in California, New York, Paris and the United Kingdom.

    As with craft breweries, Sonoma County and the North Bay have a significant share of emerging businesses.

    The Sonoma County Economic Development Board has identified at least six distilleries that have opened up within the last two years: Stillwater Spirits in Petaluma, Spirit Works Distillery in Sebastopol, Hello Cello in Sonoma, Sonoma Coast Spirits, Hanson Spirits of Sonoma and Sonoma County Distilling Company. Napa County has at least two: Napa Valley Distillery in Napa and Charbay Distillery & Winery in St. Helena.

    While demand has increased for locally produced spirits, Mr. Spiegel said he and other distillers are still hampered by a Prohibition-era law that doesn’t permit direct-to-consumer sales, unlike the wine and beer industries. A recently passed assembly bill now permits tasting rooms at distilleries — which Mr. Spiegel intends on opening in due time — but it’s not enough to alleviate the restraints placed on the industry.

    “We, as a business, can’t make money on a tasting room,” he said.

    Sonoma County Distilling Company’s spirits retail between $62 to $65 per 750-milliliter bottle.

    ***

    Monthly hotel occupancy rates in January for Sonoma County were up by 3.7 percent from a year before, while the average daily room rate, or ADR, increased by 8.6 percent and revenue per available room, or RevPAR, by 12.6 percent, according to the latest data from Smith Travel Research.

    The average daily room rate in January reached $101.55, compared with $93.52 the previous January. RevPAR reached $58.26, up from $51.74.

    In Napa County, January occupancy slightly dipped, by 1.8 percent, year over year, but cumulative occupancy over 12 months increased 3.9 percent.

    Average daily room rates rose by 10.8 percent over the year to $192.26, up from $173.51 a year before. For 12 months, average daily room rates increased 8 percent.

    RevPAR was $86.03 in January, up 8.8 percent from $79.09 a year before. For 12 months, RevPAR was up by 12.1 percent.

    In Marin County, which is tracked by PKF Consulting, January figures are not yet available. But December metrics were hot: occupancy up by 17.5 percent, while RevPAR was $92.24, up 26.2 percent from $73.32. Average daily room rate was $124.48, up 7.4 percent from $115.89 a year prior.

    For the 12 months ended in December, Marin occupancy rates were up by 6.2 percent, while ADR climbed 9.4 percent to $139.80. RevPAR increased 16.2 percent to $109.05.

    ***

    Passenger volume in January at Charles M. Schulz–Sonoma County Airport was 4.4 percent more than a year before, according to the airport’s only carrier, Alaska Airlines, which operates Horizon Air.

    A total of 15,703 passengers flew in and out of the airport in January, compared with 15,034 the previous January.

    The average Horizon Air flight serving Santa Rosa was nearly 70 percent full in January.

    The carrier currently serves four destinations from Santa Rosa: Los Angeles, San Diego, Portland and Seattle. Sonoma County Airport is also in the early stages of a two-year, $53.8 million project to lengthen and realign its two runways to comply with new federal standards.

     ***

    Randy Baron was appointed general manager for the 102-room Hampton Inn and Suites Rohnert Park. The hotel, located at 6258 Redwood Dr., is operated by Kentucky-based Commonwealth Hotels, LLC.

    As general manager, Mr. Baron will direct all areas of the hotel’s operational, sales and marketing efforts. He has served in the hotel industry for more than 10 years, most recently with the Marriott family of brands in Sonoma County.

    ***

    Silverado Resort & Spa in Napa recently brought on Brett Mathis as its new head golf professional, after a comprehensive search that attracted more than 120 applicants. Mr. Mathis comes to Silverado after having served as the head golf pro at Pasadera Country Club in Monterey. He also served as the first assistant golf pro at Carmel Valley Ranch. Mr. Mathis is a class A member of a the PGA and previously served on the board of directors for its Monterey Bay chapter.

    ***

    The Meritage Resort and Spa in Napa was honored with a number of top awards during the annual Pacific Hospitality Group Conference held at the Bacara Resort & Spa in Santa Barbara.

    The Meritage sales team received five awards including: Hotel Sales Team of the Year; Director of Sales of the Year, given to Sheri Thomas; Chairman’s Award, given to Rosanne Beals; Best Networker, given to Toddy Isham; and Top Group Average Daily Rate Performance by a Salesperson, given to Elisse Peck.

    The facility’s entire staff was also honored to receive the “Outstanding Hotel of the Year based from all Measurements” award, given to the top hotel/resort within the Pacific Hospitality Group family of hotels that shows the most improvement in guest reviews, sales and other areas.

    ***

    Ca’ Momi in Napa is one of 11 American restaurants to be certified by the Verace Pizza Napoletana Association. This Italian government designation has requirements of Neapolitan pizza-making and recognizes pizzerias that respect the culinary tradition. Fewer than 60 U.S. restaurants have received this certification.

    Submit items for this column to Business Journal Staff Writer Dan Verel via dverel@busjrnl.com.

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