The Distillery Trail teamed up with Toast Tours for the first time to provide safe rides to participants
SAN LUIS OBISPO COUNTY — Last weekend, Aug. 12 through 14, spirit drinkers from the Central Coast and beyond headed out on the Distillery Trail. The weekend featured the best hard alcohol being made in San Luis Obispo County and was put on by the Distillers of SLO County.
The three-day weekend featured 14 different distilleries, 10 located in North County and four in South County. Each distillery showed off its craft booze and catered to participants with mixology demonstrations, live music, food pairings, and more.
“We’re 14 distilleries strong. The other cool thing is we’re the only organized distillery trail in the state,” said Aaron Bergh, president and distiller at Calwise Spirits Co. in Paso Robles and current president of the Distillers of SLO County. “We’re really putting Paso Robles and the SLO County area on the map as being the region for spirits in California and the country in general. There aren’t, there’s Kentucky, there’s Tennessee, a little bit in Oregon, but this really this is one of the main hot spots in the country.”
The Central Coast distilleries featured this year included; Autry Cellars, Azeo Distillery, Bethel Rd. Distillery, Calwise Spirits Co., Distillery Cheval, Donati Spirits, Grain + Vine, Krobar Craft Distillery, Pendray’s Distillery, Re:Find Distillery, Rod and Hammer’s SLO Stills, SLO De Vie Distillery, Tin City Distillery, and Willow Creek Distillery.
“It’s been super fun,” said Bethel Rd. Distillery’s Bri Woo, who’s been working there for two years. “It’s good to have the opportunity for everyone, customers to be incentivized to hop over to each one [distillery]. Figure out what they like, figure out what we all do.”
This year, the Distillery Trail Weekend included the option of a limited-edition Copper Card, laser engraved with all 14 distillery’s names. The $85 card included a tasting flight at each distillery, did not have to be used on the trail weekend, and has no expiration date.
“It’s been a great success,” Bergh said of the weekend. “This is our [Calwise’s] third year doing it, and it certainly, we can certainly tell that the momentum and the buzz is building. The past years have all been good, but over the past few years, we’ve just seen it progressively get more and more popular, and more and more people are coming out for it.”
Attendees were also encouraged to pick up a trail map, collect stamps, and after going to at least six distilleries, trade them in for a special edition SLO Distillers flask. This year, the Distillery Trail also teamed up with Toast Tours out of Paso Robles, who offered luxury packaged rides to people out tasting so they could enjoy the weekend safely and comfortably.
“[It] was kind of a little pilot program. We didn’t advertise it a ton; we just wanted to try it out,” Bergh said. “It was a huge success, so next year we’re really going to bump up the transportation partner aspect of it.”
All the spirits tasted during the weekend are made with locally sourced ingredients, from alcohol distilled from grapes to the addition of herbs native to the area. As a result, the spirits distilled on the Central Coast taste unique to the area.
“It’s just been a great opportunity for the public to come out and check out what we’re doing,” continued Bergh. “A lot of people know about the wine industry here. That’s what a lot of people come for, and we have a pretty nice craft brewing scene too, and we want people to know about the distilling scene now because it’s really growing here.”