When we head to Wine Country, we usually expect to sip on, well, wine. But by the third stop, even the truest winos among us may begin to feel a little vino-ed out.
But now, tucked among the Sonoma vines lies a new tasting experience—vodka, anyone?
At Hanson of Sonoma's distillery, a shiny new tasting room opened this July and is pouring all five of the brand's uniquely flavored vodkas plus two limited-release infusions: espresso and seasonal boysenberry. The family-owned and -operated label has been crafting its organic, gluten free, non-GMO vodkas since 2014, but decided it was time to concoct an equally gorgeous space that would allow the public in to sip on its 100 percent grape-based spirits (Hanson produces the only fully organic grape-based vodka in the United States).
Designed by patriarch Scott Hanson, the tasting room is an inviting space meant for casual yet sophisticated revelry. Hanson—who spent the first part of his career as an artist building and running galleries around the country—partnered with local metal fabricator Andrew Bradford for a custom design. With reclaimed wood paneling, steel shelving, a Calacatta marble bar top, and brushed copper accents, the space is a one-of-a-kind hangout that perfectly complements its featured product.
Sidle up to the bar or sink into a leather sofa for samples of Hanson's award-winning infusions, available in refreshing cucumber, zingy ginger, floral mandarin, and piquant habanero, as well as the plain OG—it's all the manifestation of the dream of two Hanson brothers, Chris and Brandon, who became obsessed with the idea of starting a family-run, craft spirit distillery and roped in their parents and two other siblings for the project.
While sipping on vodka might feel just a little different than tasting wine (ok, maybe it's way different), it's a fun, unique, and educational experience thanks to four different tours and tastings. But if you'd prefer, you can take your vodka the usual way: Cocktails conceived by Krzysztof Pawlik, Hanson's GM and a Thomas Keller Restaurant Group alum, are also on offer here. The classic dirty martini is so smooth, you won't be sorry.
Over the next few months, Hanson will be playing with a bartender residency program to showcase drinks from talented Bay Area bartenders; look for Trick Dog mixologist Kimberly Rosselle's Pepper's Pride, made with Hanson's habanero vodka, pineapple, hibiscus, and lime—it's a fiery fiesta in your mouth.
Throw one back and then buy a bottle to take home; you can find a variety of drink recipes on Hanson's website to recreate the experience anytime.
// Hanson of Sonoma, 22985 Burndale Rd. (Sonoma) is open 11am to 5pm daily for tours and tastings, hansonofsonoma.com.