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Friday, November 12, 2010

11/16 - Miles & Marko Karakasevic, Winemakers & Master Distillers of Domain Charbay

Miles & Marko atop their
Charbay Alambic Distiller
Slow Living Radio visited with father & son master distillers Miles & Marko Karakasevic, 12th and 13th generation Yugoslavian winemakers and distillers who are Napa Valley legends!

Miles Karakasevic is a European winemaker and Master Distiller. Born in old Yugoslavia, he apprenticed in the tradition followed by the Karakasevic family since the 1750's. Following in their footsteps, learning the secrets of his forefathers, he eventually became certified as a Master Distiller, a title earned by equaling or bettering the work of another Master. Along the way, Miles studied Enology and Viticulture at the University of Belgrade and in Germany. Immigrating to the New World in 1962, Miles first stopped in Canada and Michigan before eventually settling in California in 1970. In 1972, he and Susan purchased the seventeen-acre property on Spring Mountain that now is home for the family as well as for Charbay. In the following years, Miles worked with some of the best wineries, including Italian Swiss Colony and Beringer Vineyards, where he was assistant winemaker. Longing to distill, he convinced a client to import an Alambic Pot Still from Cognac. Miles started two of the three distilleries in Mendocino County.

Miles tends the aging spirits

In 1983, he and Susan began making their own wines and brandy. Being comfortable with all aspects of fermenting and making many wines, even champagne, now he was excited to begin a brandy program. Miles has been distilling with his family ever since.

Marko Karakasevic at the "still"

Marko Karakasevic grew up around pumps, hoses and tanks. This was his father's world and the family always lived close to the winery where Miles, his father, made wine. Marko graduated from St. Helena High School and spent a year at Davis where he began his studies in sports physical therapy. However, harvests would find Marko working in various Napa Valley wineries.

After working in a Napa Valley tasting room, he discovered he liked all sides of the wine business—from production to sharing his winemaking experience with visitors. In the fall of ’95, Marko realized he wanted to apprentice under his father and be the 13th generation to carry on the Karakasevic family tradition. That's when his parents realized: "He's the man we've been looking for." From that point on, he has submitted to the same tough routine of generations of Karakasevic men and women before him: learning the winemaking, the distilling and the running of a family business where one must wear many hats. The Charbay Distillers' Port is a spirited salute to this father and son team. Marko conceived the idea of Charbay's whole-fruit flavored vodka program. He found the fruit and designed the packaging. Now, with two generations of enthusiastic winemakers/distillers behind the Charbay label, there are even more releases of "perfumes for the soul” to watch for.

Give Marko a few days off and he’ll head down to Baja. There’s a little town where they all know him and he stays with the fishing boat captains. BV, ‘Before Vodka’, his travels were longer. One was a summer trip through South America with time in Cusco and Machu Picchu during the Summer Solstice. Lately his trips have been New York City and Las Vegas! Marko, like everyone in this family, likes to travel & explore. Marko, no matter where he roams, always loves coming home to his St. Helena and his mountain top. He carries on the tradition as generation XIII.
Marko became a Master Distiller with the release of his Doubled & Twisted Light Whiskey. 

Cheers, Marko!!

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