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Welcome to Our B(ooze) Log

Taylor Stroud
 
March 15, 2019 | Taylor Stroud

Paul Martin - Brand & Hospitality Director

Brand & Hospitality Director

& NVD OG

Everybody, meet Paul – Napa Valley Distillery’s Brand & Hospitality Director!

Paul grew up in Oakland, California and graduated with a BA in Sociology from University of Oregon. Before joining Napa Valley Distillery, Paul was the Tasting Room Commander at St. George Spirits in Alameda. Paul has always had a passion for spirits and while he thoroughly enjoyed his experience with St. George, he eventually decided it was time for a change. So St. George owner Lance Winters put Paul in contact with fellow California Craft Distiller’s Guild Member and Napa Valley Distillery owner Arthur Hartunian. Paul interviewed with Arthur soon after and the rest is history.

Paul was initially hired as a shop hand at the Oxbow with the idea of building the Distillery’s tasting program just as spirits tastings were starting to become legal in California. From there he started the tour program at the Grand Tasting Salon, graduating from shop hand to Grand Tasting Salon Manager to Brand Ambassador to the executive position he holds now.

As Brand & Hospitality Director, Paul is head manager overseeing operations, scheduling and training at both locations; he also ensures even levels of hospitality for all guests at either location by conducting tours and tastings. Additionally, he is leading the wholesale branch initiative for Napa Valley Distillery product to hit shelves in restaurants, bars and stores near you in 2019.

In the next ten years Paul would love to continue growing the Napa Valley Distillery repertoire and brand, but he would also love to someday start his own distillery. As for NVD’s current repertoire of product, his favorite thing we’ve made is the Old Engine #4, a whiskey made last year from which half of its proceeds were donated to the Napa Fire Department. It was a good cause, and a damn good whiskey that we can only hope to replicate in the future. But as much as he loved the Old Engine #4, Paul would love for the Distillery to produce a rye whiskey. 

If you couldn’t guess, when Paul goes out his cocktail of choice is a Sazerac; he finds that to be an accurate test of a good bartender. But when he’s in the mood he enjoys a traditional daquiri, as well. Some of his favorite places to eat and drink in the Napa Valley are Cole’s Chophouse, Taqueria Maria and the rooftop bar at Andaz hotel.

Say hi if you see Paul out – and come see him for a tour and tasting at the Grand Tasting Salon!

Time Posted: Mar 15, 2019 at 1:00 PM
Taylor Stroud
 
February 15, 2019 | Taylor Stroud

Tim Espinoza - The Man Behind The Booze

The Man Behind

The Booze

Everybody, meet Tim – Napa Valley Distillery’s Production manager and Head Distiller!

If you currently have any of our spirits or cocktails in your home bar, chances are that Tim is the guy who made it. Tim has been with the company since early 2015, but having been born and raised in Napa where he’s lived for over 30 years now, he’s always been intrigued with the world of alcohol. He first got into alcohol production working under Don Barkley, California’s first craft brewer since Prohibition, eventually becoming a Draft Technician. Tim has also worked on the sales end of the industry as Head of Sales at Carneros Brewery, but ultimately found his passion in production.

Tim came in contact with Napa Valley Distillery in May 2015, but was not hired as a Distiller. Initially, Tim was hired to work for one week helping pack Bar Club boxes. He took advantage of the situation to shadow Production Assistant Carlos and bend owner Arthur’s ear about his passion for spirits – and it worked. At the time Arthur didn’t have an opening for a position in production, so Tim was hired at the Oxbow Tasting Room, where he worked in sales. Eventually, in November of 2016 he was hired full-time as Production manager.

As Production Manager, Tim oversees all production operations i.e. fermenting, blending, proofing and bottling of products. He also manages the production schedule for his team, consisting of Carlos and Tyler. The three of them are to thank for all Napa Valley Distillery spirits filling your home bars – including Tim’s favorite, the Grand California. Fun fact: it’s the first spirit he made as a Distiller with the company! 

Of course, he and the production team are also in love with our Old Hollywood Ginns and excited to unveil more varieties in the future. As for Tim’s future with the company, he hopes over the next ten years to help build Napa Valley Distillery into a household name – a goal that doesn’t seem too far off.

You might run into Tim the next time you visit our Grand Tasting Salon. Be sure to say hi and ask him any of your burning spirited questions!

Time Posted: Feb 15, 2019 at 11:36 AM
Taylor Stroud
 
February 1, 2019 | Taylor Stroud

Lulu Hartunian - The First Lady of Napa Valley Distillery

The First Lady

of Napa Valley Distillery

Everybody, meet Lusine (or, as we all know her, Lulu) – Co-Owner of Napa Valley Distillery and owner of epicurean boutique Napastäk!

Like her husband and Distillery Co-Owner Arthur, Lulu was born in Armenia. She and her family came to California in 1980. In 1996, she and Arthur met and started a family. She graduated with an Associate of Arts and, coincidentally like Arthur, worked in law for a time before realizing that wasn’t what she wanted to do.

Lulu has always had a passion for the culinary arts (especially with three kids to feed!) She has always enjoyed cooking and the experience it can provide for a family or a social setting. Coinciding with Arthur’s passion for spirits, Lulu believes that food plays an equally important role in the dining experience. She recalls watching Ratatouille with her family once, when the inspiration struck her. “What does Napa need?” she thought, and decided what it needed was a lifestyle brand of quality ingredients and kitchenware to enhance the dining experience in the home.

Arthur began sketching a logo – a rabbit holding a spoon. They enjoyed the idea of the Distillery and its sister company both having animal logos. The word “Napastäk” came to them, which means “the rabbit” in Armenian and was incidentally their daughter Isabella’s second word (after "papa"). From there, in 2014 Napastäk was born. The shop opened in the Oxbow, taking over the Distillery Tasting Room’s original retail space once it moved.

Today, Lulu runs the show at Napastäk and is excited to open its second location soon next to the Archer Hotel on First Street. Napastäk is preparing to release and do tastings of their own wines, a full realization of Lulu’s ideal kitchen experience. In addition to setting the daily game plans for Napastäk, helping attend to Napa Valley Distillery needs and, most importantly, being a mom, Lulu is excited for the future of both companies. She hopes within ten years to establish a Napastäk food club to compliment the Distillery Bar Club. 

Some of Lulu’s favorite places to eat and drink in the Napa Valley include Zuzu, Torc and Bouchon. Her cocktail of choice is an old fashioned or a vesper, but she loves gin, as well. In fact, one of her favorite Napa Valley Distillery items is the Summer Sequel Ginn!

 

Come see Lulu and the Napastäk team at the Oxbow and at the new First Street location, opening very soon!

Taylor Stroud
 
January 25, 2019 | Taylor Stroud

Arthur Hartunian - The Man Who Started It All

The Man

Who Started It All

Everybody, meet Arthur – the Owner and Proprietor of Napa Valley Distillery!

Like his wife and Distillery Co-Owner Lusine, Arthur was born in Armenia. When he was a kid, his family moved to Canada and soon after to central California. When he and Lusine met and started a family, Arthur went through a multitude of careers that he never truly fell in love with. He was a driver, a paralegal, an insurance broker and even a cards dealer in Las Vegas.  Even if he was financially successful, Arthur decided that he didn’t want to live or work in a place that didn’t make him truly happy. So, in 2009, he and his family set out in pursuit of his true passion – spirits!

After what Arthur describes as “about six minutes of research” into the industry, Napa Valley Distillery was founded in 2009. Arthur has always been committed to living in the moment, so he took his passion for spirits and brief experience with making liqueurs at home and started the brand we all know and enjoy a decade later!

Today, Arthur prides himself and the Distillery in the ambition to create unique products beyond people’s perceptions of spirits. Arthur has always set out to make classic spirits with historical roots and a modern twist – as evidenced by our wide array of brandies, for example. Having made brandy from grapes, pears, plums, nectarines, apricots, cherries and more, he fancies Napa Valley Distillery to be one of the most creative brandy makers in the industry!

In terms of Arthur’s favorite Napa Valley Distillery product, he says it is without a doubt the Old Hollywood Ginn. He got the inspiration for the Ginn by researching the way gins were made in the 1800s. One of his most creative libations, he says the Ginn describes our company in a nutshell. 

Perhaps not surprisingly, Arthur’s cocktail of choice is a gin and tonic, although he considers himself an “equal opportunity drinker”. Some of his favorite places to eat and drink in the Napa Valley include Morimoto and Bouchon Bistro.

Over the next ten years, Arthur only wants to see more of the ambition and growth the Distillery has shown since the beginning. Going forward, he would like the Distillery to continue making things that other distilleries don’t necessarily want to make, proving that you don’t have to follow a trend to be successful – you just have to follow your passion!

As Arthur always says, “The best is yet to come.”

Taylor Stroud
 
December 28, 2018 | Taylor Stroud

Jake Lustig - The Disney Prince of the Distillery

The Disney Prince

of the Distillery

Everybody, meet Jake – one of Napa Valley Distillery’s newest Tasting Experts at the Oxbow!

Jake was born in Fremont but grew up and still lives in Napa. He graduated from Napa High and went on to study Psychology at Stanislaus State.

Jake has been familiar with the Oxbow Public Market and all those who inhabit it since long before he worked there. His brother Adam worked for Fieldwork Brewing Co. and through him Jake befriended many an Oxbow employee, including some at Napa Valley Distillery! His eventual joining of the team was a natural progression.

Jake was hired as a production assistant in February of 2018 and moved to the Oxbow Tasting Salon in March. He is now a part of the senior staff of the Oxbow retail team. As a part of the team, Jake takes guests and Bar Club Members through spirits tastings and helps them assemble the perfect ingredients for their cocktails at home. He may even be the one to sign you up for our Bar Club!

Jake would like to see Napa Valley Distillery grow and expand – in fact, he would love for the company to release its first agave spirit and/or tequila. That may or may not already be in the works, however… 

But Jake is not picky with what he likes to drink. When he’s out, he orders a bourbon old fashioned. When he’s in, he likes to pop open one of Napa Valley Distillery’s batched Mai Tai cocktails. What you’ll never see Jake request, however, is a vodka shot. 

Jake’s favorite food is Mexican and one of his favorite eats in Napa is Andy’s Café.

His 10-year plan (that he actually considers more of a 5-year plan) is to save enough money to buy a house and start a family.

Come see Jake at the Oxbow Tasting Room for a flight!

Time Posted: Dec 28, 2018 at 1:15 PM
Taylor Stroud
 
December 14, 2018 | Taylor Stroud

Ryan Lindblom - Bar Club Concierge

Bar Club Concierge 

(& EMT if need be!)

Everybody, meet Ryan – our Bar Club Concierge!

Ryan was born and raised in the Bay Area, specifically Oakland and Vallejo. Ryan studied at Solano Community College and Napa Valley College. Fun fact: he was a certified EMT!

Regardless of where Ryan has worked, be it in restaurants or wineries, he has always had a dedication to the field of hospitality. All of these experiences have helped hone his hospitality skills in preparation for his current position at Napa Valley Distillery – where he has been for over a year!

Before Ryan joined our staff, he was actually a Bar Club member for almost three years. His appreciation for our Distillery’s products were part of the reason he was so inspired to become a part of the team behind them.

As Bar Club Concierge, Ryan is the go-between our Club Members and our Club Department overall. Aside from answering emails and phone calls and helping our Club Members with their shipments and memberships, Ryan’s position has recently evolved even further. On the weekends you can find him leading tours and tastings at our Grand Tasting Salon! He is also developing a new tasting experience for our Club Members that would include a food pairing with our spirits (stay tuned later this year!)

Ryan’s favorite spirits Napa Valley Distillery makes are the Summer Sequel Ginn, the 2007 Bourbon Mash Whiskey, and our Crème de Violette. In the future, he would love for NVD to release a kombucha and more gins! 

Ryan’s favorite places to eat and drink in Napa are Ca’momi and Cadet.

As for his cocktail of choice, it’s simple; he says ideally it has three ingredients – one of which being ice. When he goes out he prefers a gin and tonic. As for what he likes to eat, he loves his plate to be colorful and rich with heirloom veggies. This is a nod to his passion of gardening – he includes the idea of a fantastic garden in his 10-year plan of building a house on a plot of land he owns.

Come do a tour and tasting with Ryan at the Grand Tasting Salon!

Time Posted: Dec 14, 2018 at 12:00 PM
Taylor Stroud
 
November 30, 2018 | Taylor Stroud

Theodore Alexander - Tour Director & Spirited Specialist

Tour Director

& Spirited Specialist

Everyone, meet Theodore – Napa Valley Distillery’s Grand Tasting Salon Tour Director!

Theodore was born and raised in Sonoma County and currently lives in Napa. He’s been working for our Distillery since July 2015 – and in the words of Theodore, it all started with “a curly mustache and a fancy waistcoat.”

His cousins-in-law were bar Club Members and brought him to a tasting one night at the Distillery. The tasting made Theodore fall in love with our spirits (especially our Old Hollywood Ginn, which he still considers his favorite to this day!). Theodore was working as a bartender at the time and had a lot of questions. His cousin made a joke that he looked like the guys behind our bar and that maybe he should work there. Theodore jokingly asked if they were hiring – and the answer was yes. The next day he dropped off his resume, was interviewed on the spot and the rest is history.

As Tour Director, Theodore leads tours and tastings at our Distillery’s main location, facilitates our guests’ experiences and is one of the chief trainers for all new employees. In the years to come, Theodore would like to have a small hand in the manufacturing of our spirits. He would love to see the Distillery produce a bottled Sazerac sometime soon. 

Theodore is currently a licensed Certified Specialist of Spirits, as awarded by the Society of Wine Educators. This basically makes him the guy to ask for knowledge of any and all things booze. He hopes within the next 5 years to become a Certified Spirits Educator to take his expertise to the next level. He would also like to continue adding his own flavor to our tour program at the Grand Tasting Salon. 

When Theodore goes out, he enjoys a French 75 or a Rum Fashioned (even though he once was served one with 1/8 cup of sugar by mistake). One of his favorite spots in Napa is Tannery Bend Beerworks, where they have a beer that’s been aged in our Brandy Cordial barrels!

Come do a tour and tasting with Theodore sometime!

Time Posted: Nov 30, 2018 at 12:15 PM
Taylor Stroud
 
November 16, 2018 | Taylor Stroud

Tyler Burke - Salesman Turned Assistant Distiller

Salesman Turned

Assistant Distiller

Everybody, meet Tyler – Napa Valley Distillery’s newest Assistant Distiller!

Tyler was born in Monterey, California and has lived in Napa for four years. Tyler studied winemaking at UC Davis and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Viticulture and Enology. He has made wine all around the world – including Argentina. He even recently found a bottle of Argentinian wine at a grocery store that he made himself! (He totally bought it.)

Because Napa has a lot of famous winemakers and only a few famous distillers, Tyler discovered a new career path with Napa Valley Distillery.

Tyler started as a Spirits Expert at the Oxbow in April of 2017, where he worked for a year and a half. In August of 2018, Tyler moved into production, where he has been helping concoct your delicious spirits ever since!

As Assistant Distiller, Tyler supports the production team in conducting fermentation, distillation, bottling, packaging, and research development into new products.

Tyler’s 10-year plan is to help build Napa Valley Distillery, making world-class spirits in a region known for wine. He would like to be part of the outreach to the remainder of the alcohol industry. This would involve establishing relationships with other wineries and breweries to source wine, beer, barrels and other important components of distillation.

Fun fact: Tyler owns a USB drive with over 8,000 research papers on winemaking. He applies the best of this information to distillation!

Tyler claims to have never had a bad drink, because he sees all drinks as a learning experience. As a student of spirit, he studies what he tastes to uncover where and how certain flavor profiles come to be. His favorite place in Napa to grab a cocktail and a bite to eat is the Archer Hotel Rooftop Bar.

As far as cocktails go, Tyler prefers a martini. Whether it’s a clean gin martini or dirty vodka martini, he prefers it stirred – not shaken.

Tyler’s favorite product Napa Valley Distillery has ever made is the first run of the Whiskey Barrel Aged Nectarine Brandy. He loved it so much he bought 5% of the total production! 

As far as what he’d like NVD to make, Tyler would like to see a scotch-style brandy using wines affected by the October 2017 fires. Tyler would like to make something considered largely unusable and reminiscent of dark times into something flavorful and special.

 

Come do a tour and tasting and, if you see Tyler, say hi!

Time Posted: Nov 16, 2018 at 10:45 AM
Taylor Stroud
 
November 6, 2018 | Taylor Stroud

Candice Harper - Distillery Concierge and Social Media Guru

Distillery Concierge

& Social Media Guru

Everyone, meet Candice – Concierge to Napa Valley Distillery!

Candice was born in Vallejo and just bought her first house in Napa with her boyfriend Hernan (who has been known to write recipes for our Bar Club shipments!) She has two Associates degrees in Natural Science and Mathematics and graduated Sacramento State with a BA in Communications.

As Napa Valley Distillery continues to grow, the company recognized there was a need for someone to help keep structure of our growing schedule of tours and tastings. This is where Candice comes in. As Concierge, she is often the first point of contact for guests visiting our Grand Tasting Salon. She runs our Blue Room gift shop, assisting with sales, phone calls, emails, inventory and all other things to help the customer experience go smoothly. During the week, you can sometimes find her providing spirits tastings at our Oxbow Tasting Room. She is also one of the main showrunners of our social media!

As part of her move to Napa, Candice started with us in late February of 2018. Her 10-year plan includes building her new house into her dream home – complete with furnishings, a garden and another husky to add to her family!

Candice loves Napa and everything in it. Some of her places to eat and drink include Eiko’s Sushi and Palisades Saloon (which both carry our spirits… wink wink). She also enjoys a craft cocktail at Morimoto. 

When Candice goes out she typically orders a boulevardier because she’s always loved whiskey. But she’s discovered a new appreciation for a negroni. Like many others before her, she never considered herself a gin person… until she tried our Old Hollywood Ginn. Luckily, we make a bottled Negroni Cocktail, but if Napa Valley Distillery were to make something new, she’d love to see us make a boulevardier. As far as her favorite item that Napa Valley Distillery currently makes, Candice loves our 4-year Rumslinger Rum.

Come see Candice and the rest of the gang at the Grand Tasting Salon and Oxbow Tasting Room!

Time Posted: Nov 6, 2018 at 12:00 PM
Taylor Stroud
 
October 26, 2018 | Taylor Stroud

Taylor Stroud - Tasting Room Associate & Blog Posting Extraordinaire

Tasting Room Associate

& Blog Posting Extraordinaire

Hello everyone, my name is Taylor – one of Napa Valley Distillery’s Oxbow Tastings Experts and resident biographer!

We are a family-owned business and find it important to introduce our guests to those in front of and behind the proverbial curtain, so I am writing profiles on everyone in our company. Additionally, I assist in sales and spirits tastings at our tasting room and bar shop in the Oxbow Public Market!

I started with the company in October of 2017. I was having lunch one day with Paul, our Brand & Hospitality Director (and also my cousin), venting about a job that wasn’t going so well for me. He casually mentioned that the Oxbow may be looking for some extra help. That day we went to the Oxbow to see the shop and I was enthralled by everything. I exchanged information with the manager, sent in my resume and the rest is history!

As a Tastings Expert I am also a Sales Associate, so in addition to conducting spirits tastings and signing guests up for our Bar Club I help guests find bitters, syrups, barware and more unique essentials for their bars at home. I always say it’s a difficult job to do if you’re not genuinely interested in the world of spirits – luckily I and our staff are just as intrigued as you!

I’ve always liked gin, but I didn’t consider myself an avid “gin fan” until I first tried our Old Hollywood Ginn. A year later, it’s still my favorite product Napa Valley Distillery has ever made. Now I get a gin and tonic almost everywhere I go – especially on‚Äč a night out someplace like Napa’s Archer Hotel rooftop bar. Sadly, in my experience a gin and tonic isn’t always as tasty as it should be. I’d love to see NVD master a batched “Ginn & Tonic” as a bottled cocktail someday.

As for my someday, my 10 year plan includes lots of travel and education. I am about to graduate with a Bachelor’s degree in Communications from Sonoma State University, but I consider myself an eternal student. I’ve learned so much already from this company and cannot wait to learn more about the world of spirits and beyond.

Come see me and the rest of the Oxbow staff for a spirits tasting sometime soon!

Time Posted: Oct 26, 2018 at 6:53 PM
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