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Perfumes for the Soul by Khristopher Lund – The History – The capturing of perfume is not only the essence of distillation it is also the origins of its historical motivation. The art form of distillation, from the Latin de stillare meaning to drip or trickle down, began as a method for creating perfumes for the likes of Cleopatra, it then moved to the Persians who added medicinal herbs to the mix and dispensed the beverages as restoratives. The establishments where the restorative soups, broths, and distilled remedies were offered became known as restaurants. The 1700’s and the age of enlightenment brought the “distillatio per descensum” or “the demand by the people for spirits”. The people were thirsty and everywhere the local wild plant life was constantly being experimented with to create distilled beverages for social consumption. This is where our story begins, with the Karakasevic family emerging in this environment to begin their legacy in distillation. As Phylloxera destroyed much of the European vineyards near the turn of the century, more and more creative spirits became available to quench the thirst of the masses. As the distillation process was refined and skilled artisans honed their craft, a level of achievement was created to acknowledge superior ability. The title of Master Distiller is not awarded by a university or other body, it is bestowed only after an existing Master Distiller has taken you in and taught you the breadth of their knowledge, and when they become convinced that you have “mastered” the technique and surpassed your teaching, it is then that you are considered worthy of the title. The old master and apprentice system, a system which was discarded far too casually in modern society. Miles Karakasevic was the 12th generation Karakasevic to earn the title of Master Distiller, and his son and protégé Marko has recently become the 13th generation to achieve Master. How do you tell a story that takes thirteen generations to build - one sip at a time naturally? – The Journey – Spring Mountain Road begins innocently enough in the quiet residential streets of St. Helena, but quickly it turns up the mountain with a series of switchbacks through the dense forest of redwoods. Up you go past Langtry road climbing towards the sunlight, when you arrive at the small green sign post with a red sun symbol that reads Charbay. A small winding gravel road and a call box gate later and you have arrived at Karakasevic family Winery and Distillery high atop Spring Mountain. It would be a wonderful thing to be able to taste the wines and spirits but the law forbids them from tasting or selling the spirits directly from the distillery, but the wines are well worth the trip, and the education about the art of distillation is excellent. You will be offered a seat at the intimate tasting bar where the current flight of wine and a selection of their fortified creations are poured and discussed.
Maker Info
Charbay Winery & Distillery

CHARBAY WINERY & DISTILLERY remains an independent family business owned by Miles and Susan Karakasevic. They work side by side with their son Marko & his wife, Jenni, to carry on the inherited artisan traditions.


The family is one of the early pioneers in the modern American artisan distillery movement. They began distilling in California in 1983 with Alambic Pot Still Brandy and haven't stopped since then. Marko is Generation XIII to carry on the family's European heritage of fermenting & distilling.


It's hard to find someone with a more spontaneous love of the art form all grounded in solid experience. This family is hands on and it shows in the quality of everything they bottle.


Based in Napa Valley, the family lives and works admidst peaceful pine trees on Spring Mountain above St. Helena - at the affectionately known as "The Still on the Hill". Creativity and passion are grounded with a powerful professional background.