The Indie Spirit 

Jörg Rupf of Alameda's St. George Spirits inspires a whole new generation of small American distillers.

Page 6 of 6

Sales have increased more than tenfold in the past decade. Ten years ago, the company was selling about 1,500 cases of all its products combined. Now it is moving 16,000 cases of the vodka alone, and Winters reckons that St. George is selling two to three times as many bottles of eau-de-vie as it did in 2002. "It's been a roller-coaster ride," Winters says. "We had hard-slog periods and then some nice periods."

Of course, at least as far as Rupf is concerned, the real measure of success will be whether European-style after-dinner drinks catch on in the United States. Would he like eau-de-vie bottles in all the liquor cabinets of America? Sure, but he's waited twenty years to get this far. He can wait twenty more.

In the meantime, St. George Spirits is moving into an actual hangar in Alameda that overlooks the bay, complete with a deluxe tasting room. It should open by early summer, if all goes well. But you know those distillers. They're patient folk.

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