Wildfires have been wreaking havoc across California and other western states, destroying homes and livelihoods.
But one company is finding a use for some of the wine country's damaged grapes, proving that when life gives you devastating fires... make vodka.
Smoke Point Vodka is the just-launched product from Alameda, California-based Hangar 1, the distillery that's turning smoke-tinged malbec and merlot grapes into booze. You can order a bottle online, and they'll begin shipping next month.
Smoke Point Vodka hits shelves one year after the Glass Fire destroyed or damaged 31 wineries, restaurants and lodges in Napa and Sonoma. Smoke permeates grape skin, affecting wine's flavor and aroma. But Hangar 1 didn't want to let these grapes go to waste, so they devised a plan to experiment with terroir and sustainability.
They collaborated with the Crimson Wine Group, fermenting and then distilling grapes that were affected by smoke and heat and would typically be discarded by winemakers. The distillation process removed the smoke but left plenty of character behind.
The unique vodka carries Hangar 1's usual floral and fruit-forward notes, but with additional flavors, including vanilla, licorice and butterscotch on the palate, plus hints of cinnamon and a peppery, allspice finish. Drink it however you like, but the brand suggests trying the vodka in a Martini with a smoked olive garnish, so if you're looking for inspiration, that's a good place to start.
Fear not: This isn't just a cynical marketing ploy. All proceeds from the sale of Smoke Point Vodka will be donated to the California Fire Foundation, a non-profit that provides emotional and financial assistance to firefighters, their families, and the communities they protect. So, don't be shy—go ahead and procure a bottle or two.
You can return to your regular vodka schedule next month.