The Tasting Panel magazine

February 2014

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Page 62 of 111

58 / the tasting panel / february 2014 BRAND INTRODUCTION S ince the repeal of Prohibition, Santa Barbara County, a burgeoning region for wine production, has seen little action on the distilling front. Thanks to the addition of Ascendant Spirits in the Central Coast town of Buellton, CA, that's about to change as local craft spirits are on the rise. Ascendant Spirits is the brainchild of Stephen Gertman, who by his own admis- sion was an unlikely candidate as a professional distiller. Gertman is a former TV producer of automotive shows that aired on ESPN, Speed and The History Channel. "I'm a gear head," he says, "anything to do with cars moving fast." A frustration with the limits of creativity imposed by TV execs edged him out of the business. Originally from Boston, Gertman bounced around L.A.'s Occidental College, then Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. "I wanted something more hands-on and creative." He decided to enroll at the American Distilling Institute in Northern California, and soon after, worked a season at Breckenridge Distillery in Colorado. FROM THE FAST LANE TO THE SLOW PACE OF DISTILLING Ascendant Spirits Fills a Void by Michael Cervin / photos by Jeremy Ball Stephen Gertman left the television industry to found Ascendant Spirits.

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