FAMILY OWNED AND OPERATED IN THE HEART OF SONOMA WINE COUNTRY
Our family is a product of the beautiful Northern Californian environment we call home. We’ve grown up alongside the farm-to-table movement pioneered in the San Francisco Bay area, surrounded by natural abundance and inspiring businesses. That approach to food and community has been integral to our vision and the distillery we’ve built together.
How it all began
Our dad. Celebrated artist, founder of internationally-recognized Hanson Galleries, and Hollywood film producer for Paramount. In the last 40 years, Scott opened Hanson Galleries from LA to NYC, Hawaii, Europe, and beyond. Everything changed when Scott’s grown children proposed an idea he couldn’t refuse: a family-owned and operated distillery in the heart of Sonoma Valley. Inspired by his work on the prohibition-era film Lawless (2012), Scott embraced his sons’ foray into premium spirits. Once the kids had developed their concept, Mom and Dad joined them in building the Hanson brand.
Meet our mom, Judy. Alongside our Dad, Scott, Judy successfully ran an international roster of fine art galleries for over four decades. When we decided to turn our hands to distilling, mom and dad joined us and backed our joint vision. They raised our family in Marin County, where they still live today, and retained the Hanson Art Gallery in Sausalito, which houses the Hanson of Sonoma Tasting Room under Judy’s expert stewardship.
Once we designed our product and label, we needed a website and marketing presence. Alanna, equipped with a bachelor’s from USC Cinematic Arts in Film Production, and a job at Sony Pictures, rose to the task. Innovative by nature, Alanna crafted our first site in-house and is the brains behind many of our ideas. Community winemaker series, local festivals and organizations, and our speaker series — you name it. Everything Alanna does champions our community by empowering creatives, supporting women in the industry, and celebrating regional organic producers.
After high school, Brandon moved to LA to chase his acting dreams. Between jobs, he found a passion for bartending and started working at various bars in the city. Seeing an opportunity for an American craft vodka, he teamed up with his brother Chris and co-founded our distillery. Their dream was to craft 100% organic, small-batch, quality spirits from California grapes. Brandon, now our Master Blender, works closely with local farmers to source ingredients for our flavored infusions and seasonal. He manages our production and works with wholesale distributors across all 50 states.
After studying audio computer engineering at the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, CA, Darren joined the family distillery in 2013 to head up and oversee production. Initially, this included procuring the distillation equipment, including our unique and superior hybrid copper pot stills and column stills! As the engineer of the group, Darren manages all aspects of spirit production, blending, and bottling. He provides the essential behind-the-scenes expertise that keeps our distillery humming.
While studying at Regent’s University London, Chris witnessed a surge in the craft brewery movement and it sparked an idea. Consulting with his brother, Brandon, the pair decided to apply that same ethos of using high-quality, locally-sourced ingredients to craft exceptional spirits. Looking to their idyllic home state, they soon decided to craft an organic vodka with Sonoma County’s most abundant local resource – grapes. Today, Chris is the Master Distiller and Winemaker at Hanson of Sonoma Distillery, and oversees the grape harvest, processing, and blending. In 2021, he was named “Distiller of the Year” by North Bay Business Times.
Hanson’s is rife with new ideas and a trailblazing kind of innovation, but the thrust of it all is more or less a throwback to when things were done simply, naturally and with integrity.
Ceja Family Vineards
To make organic vodka from grapes, you first have to make wine. We turned to our neighbors and fellow family-owned business, Ceja Vineyards, for their expert help. Ceja’s wine-making operation dates back three generations, and their wisdom and generosity has helped us from day one.
Master winemaker Armando Ceja grew up learning from his parents, who worked the vineyards with Robert Mondavi and tended the famous ‘To Kalon’ Vineyard in Napa Valley. Now he’s passing that knowledge on to his third-generation winemaker daughters, Belen and Ellie, and our family
After a year and a half trialing 155 different batches of vodka, we sought the expert opinion of Tony Abou-Ganim – considered one of the godfathers of mixology – and sent him some of our favorite samples to test.
Tony loved what we were doing. In June 2013, he sent the following note: “Just finished a second evaluation of #123 and wanted to share my tasting notes. Also, wanted to share with you that I have had several people, industry professionals and consumers, taste your latest samples blind and they all picked Batch #123”.
Batch #123 is now better known as our Original Vodka formula, a specific blend or grapes, distillation and filtering that forms the base of everything we craft at Hanson of Sonoma Distillery!
Our farming community
We’re blessed and grateful for the incredible farming community surrounding us. Nestled on the border of Sonoma County and Napa County, Hanson of Sonoma distillery sits at the heart of the Carneros Appellation renowned for its commitment to the very best in natural, sustainable and transparent agricultural practices.
Without our farming partners – who supply everything from the freshest cucumbers to the hottest habanero chilies – our certified 100% organic, non-GMO, grape-based vodka would not be possible!