Seeking 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.