SSU grad embarks on high-end vodka venture

Investment, award lift $30-a-bottle Väd line started by SSU grad

[caption id="attachment_28719" align="alignleft" width="230" caption="Will Mentesh"][/caption]

PETALUMA -- A 26-year-old Sonoma State University graduate is stirring up the market for ultrapremium vodkas with a $30-a-bottle line rolling out of a local craft distillery.

Though originally started a couple of years ago with an Oregon producer, the Väd brand -- pronounced like "vodka" -- was relaunched in December from Stillwater Spirits of Petaluma with new financial and back-office support, according to founder Will Mentesh.

"We did not want to be a vodka on the shelf that no love went into," Mr. Mentesh said about launching the new distiller.

Just out of college in 2006, he took a Central Valley job in medical sales for a couple years as he amassed a couple hundred thousand dollars to develop and produce a patent-pending bottle cap that could be a jigger for 1- or 1.5-ounce shots, a container for shots or glass rimmer. Mr. Mentesh conceived of the cap his freshman year in college.

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