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Tuesday, November 27, 2018

26 November, 2018 - The Hanson of Sonoma Distillery Story

Slow Living Radio is always delighted to welcome guests who have found a passion as a family, producing something that is mindful of the environment and our health.  Such a story is the Hanson family who have created a range of artisanal  grape-based Vodka that is the first in the US to gain organic and non-GMO certification.  Their story will delight you, and leave you thirsty to run out and try one or all of their exquisitely crafted Vodkas.

Brandon and Alanna Hanson
Hanson of Sonoma Distillery 

Hanson of Sonoma is an all-organic wine-based vodka distillery, the only such one in the country. In July, Hanson opened up a tasting room in the Los Carneros Appellation of Sonoma. A first of its kind in Wine Country, the tasting room offers a unique experience to visitors that, in addition to vodka flights and expertly-crafted cocktails, also gives an educational behind-the-scenes look at the distillery, grape sourcing and harvesting (through short films to be shown in the theater).

The Hanson Family

Hanson of Sonoma has garnered loyal fans across the country since it launched four years ago. Founded by brothers Chris and Brandon Hanson, Hanson of Sonoma is truly a family-owned and operated business. Chris and Brandon convinced their father Scott to join the company, and soon after sister Alanna and brother Darren joined as well. With five mainstay flavors – Original, Cucumber, Ginger, Mandarin, and HabaƱero – Hanson’s grape-based vodkas are distilled using a custom-designed double pot and 50-plate column still (assembled at the distillery by the Hansons) and infused with all-organic hand-selected ingredients. Working in partnership with neighboring Ceja Vineyards, the Hanson team sources a variety of organic grapes to first produce a wine which is then distilled using traditional distillation methods. Using grapes gives Hanson of Sonoma vodkas a smooth mouthfeel and a distinct slightly sweet flavor profile. Seasonal flavors like Boysenberry and Espresso are also available in limited quantities, and the tasting room offers additional exclusive flavors for tasting and purchase only at the distillery.

Krzysztof Pawlik, who spent 10 years with the Thomas Keller Restaurant Group as general manager and beverage director, leads operations at the Hanson tasting room and developed the initial cocktail program. Highlighting the versatility of the product line and showcasing the bounty of ingredients from the surrounding area, the cocktail list rotates with the seasons. There are no shot glasses, but rather the spirits are served in carefully sourced Old-Fashioned glasses. In the coming months, the tasting room will also add cocktail classes and guest bartender events.

Scott Hanson, who spent the first half of his career as an artist, building and running galleries across the country, worked in collaboration with local metal fabricator Andrew Bradford to design the tasting room and cocktail bar. The walls are flanked with reclaimed hardwood, and custom-designed blackened natural steel bottle shelving behind the bar gives it an industrial edge. The countertop at the bar is made from honed Calcutta marble while the back bar tops are clad in brushed copper. The Hansons installed the highest quality bar equipment including custom built Tobin Ellis cocktail stations, a Kold-Draft ice machine and a Nordaq FRESH water filtration system designed to be a superior palate cleanser. Bar stools allow for seating at the bar and there are high-top tables and chairs for additional seating. An outdoor courtyard, perfect for picnics and cocktails during the warmer months and for hosting large events and gatherings, surrounds a pond that uses reclaimed water from the distillery (and also irrigates the vineyards and landscaping).

The Hanson of Sonoma Distillery and tasting room is open 7 days a week from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm and is located at 22985 Burndale Road, Sonoma, CA 95476. More information can be found at or by calling 707-343-1805. Follow Hanson of Sonoma on Instagram @hansonorganicvodka.

Brandon Hanson


Alanna Hanson

Alanna Hanson Bio

Alanna Hanson, Marketing Director at Hanson of Sonoma Organic Vodka, is the creative mind behind the company’s fresh approach to creating community around spirits. The family-run business produces small-batch, grape-based vodka made with organic ingredients, and introduced the first certified non-GMO spirit produced in the USA. Alanna is passionate about supporting organics, community involvement, and innovative business and marketing practices.

Raised in Northern California’s Marin County, Alanna and her three brothers grew up around farmers markets and their surplus of organic produce, in close proximity to Wine Country. In 2009, she headed south to attend the USC School of Cinematic Arts in Los Angeles and became the first female undergraduate student to receive the school’s Sun Cinematography Award. While at USC, Alanna developed her knack for design, marketing, and project management, lending a hand to a few small businesses, including her brothers’ nascent craft distillery. She began working at Sony Pictures in 2013, but soon joined the vodka company full-time, her creative vision quickly becoming an indispensable part of the business.

Today, 27-year old Alanna works alongside her parents and three brothers at Hanson of Sonoma managing marketing, events, and the company’s many collaborations. The position allows her inventive nature to shine: she prefers a different tack to the usual type kind of spirits industry marketing, choosing a grassroots approach that more faithfully reflects the Hanson’s brand. Through initiatives like a winemaker series, bartender collaborations, involvement with local maker festivals, and hosting Hanson’s own speaker series, she’s created a community space to empower creatives, and celebrate producers and organics.  

Alanna currently splits her time between Sonoma and Marin County. When she’s not at the distillery or working in her own vegetable garden, she designs her own textiles with techniques like marble dye and indigo. Alanna and her boyfriend have recently been experimenting with building out custom travel vans, outfitting the vehicles for life on the road in style. As for vodka, her current favorite is Hanson’s habanero vodka -- she loves its spiciness and fresh, rounded pepper flavor -- usually paired with the simple addition of fresh lemonade.

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