Sidewinder Hand Crafted Grappa



Grappa is an ancient drink. Legend places it in Roman times, although the first recorded commercial production wasn’t until 1779 with Grapperia Nardini, an Italian distillery still operating today.  Although grappa production (or its equivalent like marc in France or bagaceira in Portugal) is widespread throughout Europe, little quality grappa is made in California, in spite of the fact that the state is known for its fine grape brandy. Perhaps this is because grappa is labor intensive and difficult to make well.

Grappa is distilled from the skins and seeds of the grapes after the wine has been pressed out at the end of fermentation. The pressings, which contain residual alcohol, are known as the pomace, and sometimes you will see Grappa sold as pomace brandy. Fine Grappa is a laborious process that requires careful handling of the pomace as well as special Grappa stills to keep the skins from burning.

Vermouth is a wine that has been aromatized with roots, herbs and spices and then fortified with brandy. Vermouth is often used sparingly in cocktails as few are worth drinking on their own. Yet a well-made vermouth is the perfect aperitif before dinner and can be the foundation of a low alcohol refresher on a warm day.

Sidewinder Spirits has redefined American vermouth by crafting with purpose.  We make wines purposefully for both the vermouth base and the wine we distill to brandy, for our vermouths.  The hand integration of these unique yet complementary components, with the finest botanicals we could procure, has created a vermouth rich in perfume and characteristic of our new classics.  It’s the first Livermore Valley vermouth in over half a century.

Believing our wine is the most important element in a fine vermouth, we use only our Occasio Sauvignon Blanc.  No bulk wine here, only the award winning, Occasio single varietal bottling.

We compose our vermouths with our proprietary selection of roots, herbs, spices and barks, all of which are cold extracted to give the cleanest expression of their essential oils. We begin with bittering agents, which refresh the palate and balance the sweetness of the other botanicals. Next, we build the aromas, starting with the base notes that will form the foundation. Following are the middle notes – lavender, orange peel, chamomile, and orris root are just a few of the botanicals that we use. Lastly, we build the top note fragrances that are the first to reach our nose. These essential top notes, which form our initial impressions of the vermouth, include coriander, rosemary, and grapefruit, among others.

Sidewinder vermouths are elegant and balanced.  Perfect alone, over ice as an aperitif or as a foundation of a classic cocktail.

In developing our Sidewinder packaging, we put a lot of careful thought into how we would create a natural and authentic tie-in, with our winery, Occasio.

We settled on another form of the pocket watch, the Sidewinder, and as they say, the rest is carefully calibrated history.

Our label printer loved our packaging as much as we did and entered our label into a prestigious competition, which we were thrilled to win both the “Best in Show” and “Marketing/End-Uses Group Winner” at the 38th Finat Label Awards, held in The Hague.

According to the published results, the judges were impressed by the aesthetic appeal of the label and the varying degrees of embossing and varnishing which add depth to the end result.  A very fine black halftone image is used to create an agin effect around the embossing.  The complexity of the die cutting especially around the watch winder was very clever.  The final label has the feel and look of a silver metallic label.

Thanks guys – means the world to us!

With the numerous juniper trees surrounding the Benedictine monastery in Salerno, Italy, it’s of no surprise that the berries from the trees easily provided both inspiration and ingredients for the 11th century monks there to distill what we now know as gin.

In fact, their gin was distilled of wine (watch this space) and was meant as medicine and was the beginning of what is now a thousand years of experimentation and formulation – crafting blends from secret recipes and botanicals collected from travels throughout the globe (remember those days?).

From Italy to Holland to Elizabethan England, gin adopted national flavours and had a storied place in the history of each country.  From Dutch Independence to English Gin Acts, the rise of what gin has become today, started in perhaps more recessed corners of history.

Intriguing and captivating, I wholeheartedly recommend a dive into the many books and stories you can easily find on the matter, Gin cocktail in hand most definitely.