Allowing the wine to shine in every bottle of artisan spirits is the goal of the Paso Robles-based distillery Wine Shine, which made its home in Tin City just a year ago.
Owners Patrick Brooks, Don Burns and Mark Sahaydak have found fame in their short time in business for the diversity of flavors and exquisite concoctions, pairing flavors that wow, from ginger, black peppercorn and mango to a clear and clean fig-based brandy.
"Because we are in the heart of Paso Robles we are a brandy house primarily," Brooks said. "We do make a lot of whisky from Barrel House Beer as well that is sold at markets locally, but not at the distillery. Historically what distillers have done is to distill down what is locally abundant and in our case it is definitely grapes. We take Saignée — this is the juice removed to improve wine quality before fermentation — and we refine it into top-shelf spirits. We take top-quality west side Paso Robles Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre, Cabernet Sauvignon, and a little Pinot Noir and create some outstanding brandies."
Brooks said that it is not so much the distiller that you have, it is really what goes into the still that makes the difference. They have a "Wine Shine Wine Shrine" that displays the locations that supply them with saignée. Primarily the saignée that Wine Shine uses is from Saxum Winery because of the connection between the two businesses: Burns is the assistant winemaker at Saxum. There are also a few contributions from their neighbors in Tin City.
"We are so thankful that we have such great connections like Justin Smith, who helped us get up and distilling," Brooks said. "Our neighbors have also been very supportive and we could not be happier to be a part of Tin City. Since we opened we can't keep anything in stock. We are selling out so quickly we have our current still running 24-7 we just can't make enough booze. We do have a new still coming in that has been custom-designed for our needs. To my knowledge it
is just us and Krobar that have American-made stills. We are all about organic, local produce every step of the way, and in the same way you had better have a still that represents who we are and so we went American-made the right way."
Wine Shine neutral brandy is 100 percent Saxum Grenache cut back with spring water to make 90-proof spirits. Brooks said that Grenache is a favorite of the Wine Shine team to distill because it is so fruity, botanical and sexy. It is very clean, but is not a vodka even though it is distilled clear. The white fig bandy Brooks likens to a fig newton cookie in flavor that goes down smooth even straight-up.
Brooks said that the first release of the ginger, black peppercorn and mango brandy went so fast the next run completed in mid-August was the largest Wine Shine had produced to date.
"This is hot off the distiller today, and as you can see we are still bottling it in the production facility," Brooks said, referring to the mango, back peppercorn, ginger brandy. "It takes a few months to make and it sold out in two days in our first run. It lends its self very well to mixed drinks and is perfect for a Moscow-Mule. I actually made some pork chops with it and made some mango chutney on the side, it was fantastic."
There are many applications for the spirits made at Wine Shine. Brooks and the team have applied to be able to sell vermouth and bitters out of the distillery as well. Though Wine Shine is not a full bar by any means and only serves an ounce and a half of brandy for tasting, by law, the ambiance and the personality of the owners and patrons is enough to inspire an hour stay to taste it all.
Wine Shine Artisan Spirits is located at 3060 Limestone Way and is open Friday through Sunday, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and by appointment. Call 286-4453 to set up a tasting.