Paso Robles husband-and-wife winemakers Alex and Monica Villicana, of Villicana Winery and Vineyard, couldn\u2019t bear to see even a portion of their hard-earned grapes go to waste. So they rallied local winemakers to combine saign\u00e9e (bled grape juice), which they distill into vodka and gin under the Re:Find Spirits label. Next in their bid to make sustainable spirits: turning grain used as vineyard cover crop into rye whiskey.\r\n\r\nHow did you get your start in wine?\r\n\r\nAlex: I thought I was going to go into the restaurant field. I met Victor Roberts [who was winemaker at Creston Vineyards in Paso Robles at the time], who said, \u201cIf you\u2019re going into the restaurant business, you need to learn more about wine. They go so well together.\u201d Looking back, I think it was just a way to get me to participate with the harvest. I worked at Creston for three years, and I just fell in love with the whole process. I knew I wanted to be here.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nWhat inspired your interest in making spirits?\r\n\r\nAlex: We were looking to be more sustainable and utilize our raw materials. We started playing around with Rh\u00f4ne varieties, which became popular in this region. One of the things winemakers do with certain varieties is bleeding\u2014to change the ratio of juice to skins. You\u2019re removing a small portion of that prefermentation, first-run juice everyone says is the best, but there\u2019s no use for it. By bleeding it off,\u00a0winemakers are adjusting the ratio of juice to skins\u00a0in the upcoming fermentation to produce a wine with better color and mouthfeel.\r\n\u201cI saw a way to use that wasted product to create a secondary one: distill it into a spirit. I reached out to other local winemakers to see if they had additional juice\u2026. So now we collaborate."\r\nSome wineries will turn this saign\u00e9e into a ros\u00e9. But small premium wineries generally discard this juice, especially in warmer climates, because\u00a0red wine grapes tend to be picked at high ripeness levels. For premium wineries, it makes more sense to sell off this bleed.\r\n\r\nI saw a way to use that wasted product to create a secondary one: distill it into a spirit. We started making spirits in fall 2011. I reached out to other local winemakers to see if they had additional juice. They were totally supportive\u2014they hated wasting it. So now we collaborate. It\u2019s something we\u2019re all proud of.\r\n\r\nHow is it different from making wine? Does it scratch a different itch?\r\n\r\nMonica: Unlike wine, [most] spirits don\u2019t have vintages. In winemaking, the variables from year to\u00a0year are vast, and a boutique winemaker looks to embrace and highlight them. In distilling, once you have perfected your formula\u2014which can take years\u2014you are looking to replicate it.\r\n\r\nWhat are you working on next?\r\n\r\nAlex: The Paso Robles Spirits Trail\u2014we have officially been approved by the government. We have eight founding members: seven are existing wineries that are expanding out into spirits. By the end of the year, I bet there will be more. As nice as it was to be the only distiller for four years, now it\u2019s good to have others. We\u2019ll push each other and the quality level.