Diablo Magazine May 2016 : Page 47

Fly Through The Air Feel the wind in your hair, as you hurtle through the sky on six ziplines at Margarita Adventures. The 1,800-foot Pinot Express zipline flies over a pinot vineyard and swoops down into a mine shaft at P.W. Murphy Mining Co., a replica gold-mining camp built by one of the stars of TV’s Redwood Kings . The newest zipline—the highest and longest on the ranch—includes two lines so you can race. Cap off your aerial adventure with a discounted tasting at Ancient Peaks Winery across the street. Starting at $99 per person, margarita-adventures.com. That’s the Spirit ▼ When Alex Villicana of Re:Find Distillery wanted to make a kum-quat flavored liqueur, he stripped his parents’ trees, realized the fruit was too small to peel, and didn’t let that stop him: He threw the kumquats in whole. To make Re:Find’s limoncello last year, it took 15 people, 30 worn-down potato peelers, and three and a half days to hand-zest 12,000 pounds of lemons. And when Villicana, who owns Re:Find with his wife, Monica, wanted a grape-based spirit that sipped like a whiskey, he made one of the first barrel-aged vodkas in the country. The Villicanas aren’t afraid to take risks, which is why the winemakers started to experi-ment with distilling the saignée, or runoff from winemaking that’s typically discarded, into grape-based spirits at their Villicana Winery and Vineyard. It only took them one visit to Alameda’s St. George Spirits to decide they should go for it, and in 2011, they opened Re:Find. “When we started, we thought this would be a fun side project,” says Alex. “But that first year, the biggest problem was that we couldn’t get it in the bottle fast enough.” At the tasting room, which is housed in the same building as their Villicana Winery, the focus is on educating visitors, who sometimes act as guinea pigs for the Villicanas’ latest experiment. The distillery has also branched into rye and bourbon whiskey, working with local breweries to produce the wort that is then brought to Re:Find to be fermented, distilled, aged, and bottled. Now that the Villicanas have shown what’s possible to do with an abundant Paso product—the saignée —others have followed suit. The Paso Robles area will soon be home to eight distilleries, many founded by winemakers, and the new Paso Robles Distillery Trail, which spans San Luis Obispo County. “I always jokingly say some people were standing on the sidelines to see if we went to jail before they got involved,” says Alex. “The more, the merrier. It’ll get the word out, and it’ll push us to compete in a friendly way and try new things we might not do if we were the only ones.” With the success of the distillery, will the Villicanas hang up their wine-making hats? “A lot of people ask, ‘Well, are you going to give up winemak-ing?’ And I say, ‘Hell no,’ ” says Alex. “Now that I know I have another source of revenue and also an outlet if I screw up a wine, I can experiment a bit more. It’s fun for me, and it has made winemaking more fun.” refinddistillery.com. opposite page, left to right: matt wallace; chris leschinsky. this page, top to bottom: courtesy of re:find distillery (2); sal demauro Paso Robles is known for its vino, but Re:Find Distillery has found a new—and boozier— use for the grapes. Diablo 47

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