Alameda Journal: Acclaimed St. George Spirits celebrates 30 years of artisanry, December 28, 2012
ALAMEDA -- St. George Spirits is celebrating 30 years of revolutionary distilling and forging into the future with an astrophysicist at the helm of the Alameda-based operation.
OK, so owner and master distiller Lance Winters isn't technically an astrophysicist. And they can't pin down the actual "birth day" of the artisan distillery Jorg Rupf founded in 1982.
But the 46-year old Oakland resident who dreamed of intergalactic travel as a kid growing up in Fremont commands a distillery whose reputation soars on products including an Agua Libre Rum that goes down golden like California sunshine and a St. George Gin evocative of coastal forests filled with Douglas firs, sage and bay laurel.
Giving free rein to his boyhood ambitions, Winters is a scientist, exploring the physical properties, interactions and behaviors of fruits, grains, California sugar cane, absinthe and more exotic fare, like piñas, Christmas trees, popcorn and cantaloupe.
Recent finalist nominations include Wine Enthusiast's "Distiller of the Year" and Good Foods Awards' nod to the company's Aqua Perfecta Pear Eau de Vie and the Agua Libre Rum. In 2011, three St. George gins were named "best spirits of 2011" by Esquire and Chow.
Under the redwood ceiling of Hangar 21 that formerly housed the "Firebirds" attack squadron as part of Alameda Naval Air Station, the 65,000-square-foot facility now contains custom-made copper stills, barrels of spirits, an expansive tasting room and a "mad scientist" lab.