Experience for the Senses
By Jennifer Moulaison | Photos by Darren Lovecchio
It goes without saying that grapes are synonymous with wine. But what about something a little stronger—vodka, perhaps? Not a radical idea for the Hanson family, who, through a collaboration with nearby Ceja Family Vineyard, turned it into a lucrative family operation.
“Vodka is interesting because, unlike other liquors, the determining element of vodka is how high it’s distilled rather than what the base product is,” says Alanna Hanson, head of public relations, marketing, and social media for the Hanson of Sonoma Distillery. According to Alanna, her brothers’ concept of an organic, grape-based vodka was
largely inspired by the region. It took over 155 formulas and enlisting the expertise of renowned mixologist Tony Abou-Ganim to create the perfect product, which has won
prestigious awards in the industry and served as the base for the distillery’s mouth-watering all-natural infusions.
The preceding generation of Hansons, Alanna’s father Scott, supported himself as an artist while attending the University of California Berkley. Eventually he opened a small gallery in San Francisco. He and his wife, Judy, went on to own 23 galleries across the United States and Europe. “About 12 years ago I intended to retire, selling all but our Sausalito gallery, which has always been very special to us,” says Scott.
Retirement didn’t come easily for Scott, who oversees production as the CEO for Hanson Spirits. Eventually, the concept of pairing art with spirits came about. “Both are art, really, just one is consumable,” says Alanna. The Hanson Gallery Fine Art in Sausalito now serves as a tasting venue for their unique spirits. The tasting room’s general manager previously worked with Thomas Keller, famed chef and restaurateur and the genius behind the Yountville restaurant Ad Hoc. Collaborating with vendors such as Chris Kollar Chocolates and California Caviar, the gallery offers a truly customer-based experience. “That’s really what we love most,” says Alanna. “Having a direct connection with both locals and tourists while supporting the exceptional vendors in the community is the most satisfying thing we’ve accomplished so far.”