Spirits are rising: Visit SYV’s New Distillery

First comes wine, then comes craft beer…then comes moonshine distilleries? It’s true! The latest in local liquid fascinations, a distillery has put down roots in nearby Buellton.

The Business of SYV’s New Distillery

Opening the first legal distillery in Santa Barbara County since the Prohibition Era, Ascendant Spirits is the perfect new addition to Santa Ynez Valley’s growing food and beverage scene.

Surprisingly, whiskey ages well in Santa Ynez Valley for many of the same reasons that wine does – climate. Ascendant Spirits’ products include Breaker bourbon whisky, American Star vodka, Silver Lightning moonshine, single malt whisky and rye.

President and master distiller Steve Gertman explained in a recent interview that their products are infused with other local goods including fruit and rare caviar limes. Strawberries, for example, from nearby Santa Maria are used in Ascendant’s strawberry vodka the same day they are picked.

Gertman’s interest in crafting liquors started after his very first whiskey tasting while on a trip to Scotland. Since then, his love for the drink has only appreciated. “I’ve learned,” he writes on his website, “one thing that unites many different people around the world is a love for fine whisky.”

Speaking on the building of the Ascendent brand, he writes, “It was surreal the first time I saw our whisky, Breaker Bourbon, on the shelf at El Rancho,” Gertman says on Ascendant’s website. “I felt and still feel a great sense of pride and achievement that my dream had become a reality. I haven’t regretted my decision to take this journey, even at the darkest moments. I get intense satisfaction in creating a beautiful product that people enjoy. And I also get to be a mad scientist, creating new flavor combinations.”

They currently offer tastings Friday-Sunday each week. Be sure to visit the distillery on your next visit to Santa Ynez Valley!


For more foodie guides to the Santa Ynez Valley, read about artisan cheese, craft beer, brunch spots and, of course, wine.

Between our Starting Gate Restaurant, Winner’s Circle Lounge, room service, pool-side service and holiday specials, the Santa Ynez Valley Marriott also knows a thing or two about food and beverages. Next time you stay, be sure to start or end your day with a meal by our talented team of chefs and cooks.

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