Charbay Distillery and Winery Reviews

  • 01 of 11

    Hand-Crafted Perfection is Found in These Napa Valley Spirits

    Charbay Distillery's Still House in the Napa Valley
    The Napa Valley distillery and winery of Charbay is producing some innovated, hand-crafted and very impressive distilled spirits in their still house. Charbay Artisan Distillery & Winery

    After 13 generations of handcrafting wines and spirits, the Karakasevic family continues to produce ultra-premium vodkas at the Domaine Charbay Winery & Distillery based in Napa Valley, California.

    True artistry can be tasted in every sip of their clear and fresh fruit flavored vodkas (no artificial additives, only real fruit). The smooth, lasting, pure flavors of the Charbay vodkas are testaments to the care, attention, and quality standards that these master distillers hold themselves to.

    The...MORE wonders that emerge from the stills on Spring Mountain can be tasted in every bottle of Charbay’s flavored vodkas. While the entire line of products is exceptional, a clear personal favorite is the Green Tea Vodka. As a tea connoisseur ,the anticipation that led to my first taste was minor in comparison to the flavors that awaited me.

    Charbay continues to innovate and today the master distillers are producing a variety of spirits, all of which are of the highest quality. Tequila, whiskey, even ready-to-drink aperitifs are part of the Charbay portfolio and in the following pages, we will explore a wide selection.

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  • 02 of 11

    Charbay Vodka

    Charbay Vodka - Premium Crafted California Vodka
    Charbay is distilled at one of the best distilleries and wineries in California's Napa Valley and these premium vodkas are a true delight in any cocktail. Charbay Artisan Distillery & Winery

    Before you can begin to experiment with flavors you need to have a quality base. Charbay’s Clear Vodka does the job with a fanfare that is unsurpassed in the world of spirits as we know it today, it is everything a good vodka should be.

    The artisans at Charbay have clearly perfected the process of turning the fine grain produced in the Midwest into a smooth, clean vodka that is enjoyable from start to finish.

    Tasting Notes

    Sweet waves of aroma reminiscent of the grains my grandfather used to...MORE harvest on the Dakota prairie fill the nose with a pleasant air of all-natural, wholesome honesty. A smooth, sweet beginning sets the stage for the journey which is followed by a mellow, round bodied, clean palate.

    The sweet grain follows through to a soft finish with an oh-so-slight, yet desirable, burn and bittersweet, long-lasting aftertaste.

    Enjoy Charbay Clear Vodka:

    • Vodka or Dry Martini
    • Chilled or on the rocks with a lemon or orange zest
    • On the rocks with a splash of cranberry

    About Charbay Vodka

    Originally Published: June 4, 2010

    Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

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  • 03 of 11

    Charbay Green Tea Vodka

    Charbay Green Tea Vodka - Napa Valley Premium Vodka
    True craftmanship can be found in the amazing and unique green tea-flavored vodka from Napa Valley's Charbay. Charbay Artisan Distillery & Winery

    The creative brainchild of Miles Karakasevic, Charbay’s Green Tea Vodka is a spectacularly innovative show of artistic distilling.

    After many years of research and trials, Miles perfected the flavor of this vodka using four varieties of the best tea leaves from the Anhwei Province of China. Tea from this region has been pursued since the days of China’s ancient silk route and this tradition and flavor is evident and eloquently passed on through this luxuriously spirited treat for the tastebuds.

    Tas...MOREting Notes

    Herbal fragrances become apparent immediately with hints of rosemary, sweet grasses and delicate teas that reflect a walk through the herb garden in full bloom. Earthy flavors greet your tongue with a clean, airy freshness that turns to a warm cinnamon-like heat that is pleasantly comfortable. The strong, full-flavors of green tea are a finish that leaves your mouth yearning for more.

    Enjoy Charbay Green Tea Vodka:

    • Shaken with ice and strained into a chilled cocktail glass
    • On the rocks with a splash of tonic

    About Charbay  Green Tea Vodka

    • Vodka distilled to 192 proof from GMO-free corn grown in the Midwest. Naturally flavored with real green tea.
    • Produced by Charbay Winery & Distillery, Napa Valley, California
    • 35% alcohol/volume (70 proof)
    • Retails for around $36/750ml bottle
    • Visit Their Website

    Originally Published: June 4, 2010

    Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

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  • 04 of 11

    Charbay Meyer Lemon Vodka

    Charbay Meyer Lemon Vodka - Premium Hand-Crafted California Vodka
    Enjoy the sweet and unique taste of real Meyer lemons in this premium California vodka from Charbay. Charbay Artisan Distillery & Winery

    The flavor of real lemons is difficult to duplicate in spirits when you’re using anything but natural flavoring agents. Because of this, many people choose to save the citrus vodkas for cocktails where other ingredients mask the faux tartness.

    Fear not, this is a lemon vodka that begs to be on the rocks, Charbay Meyer Lemon Vodka, which uses real lemons for flavor. But these are no ordinary lemons, these are organic (non-certified) Meyer Lemons harvested right after the frost season, a sweet,...MORE delicate fruit that is rare and sought after by those in the know.

    Tasting Notes

    A fascinating roller coaster ride begins with the delightful fragrance of summer freshness that only sweet citrus can bring. The first drop on the tongue leaves a tartness that is both enjoyable and expected, yet sweeter than one would think of a lemon.

    A delicately soft citrus taste lingers and leads to the climax of full-on fresh lemon with an extremely pleasant burn. From beginning to end, this experience is worth every second.

    Enjoy Charbay Meyer Lemon Vodka

    About Charbay Meyer Lemon Vodka

    • Vodka distilled to 192 proof from GMO-free corn grown in the Midwest. Naturally flavored with real Meyer lemons from Central California.
    • Produced by Charbay Winery & Distillery, Napa Valley, California
    • 35% alcohol/volume (70 proof)
    • Retails for around $36/750ml bottle
    • Visit Their Website

    Originally Published: June 4, 2010

    Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

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  • 05 of 11

    Charbay Pomegranate Vodka

    Charbay Pomegranate Vodka - Micro-distilled Premium California Vodka
    Sweet pomegranate is at its best inside every bottle of Charbay Pomegranate Vodka and it makes cocktails that are truly divine. Charbay Artisan Distillery & Winery

    The newest addition to Charbay's flavor line-up was finally released in September 2006. This delectable creation is everything one would expect from this snappy fruit.

    Select, organic (non-certified) pomegranates are picked from a local, family-owned farm in California and set on their intended path within a couple days for the freshest flavors. It’s another wonderful testament to quality, freshness and creative minds.

    Tasting Notes

    Flowers and pomegranates fill the nose with one of the sweetest...MORE fragrances found in any spirit. The explosion of sweetness continues with the first sip, which is inundated with a pomegranate that is so smooth it’s almost unbelievable.

    There is not one aspect that is undesirable; no burn, and nothing overbearing, just simple, sweet delight, much like the loveliest of summer afternoons.

    Enjoy Charbay Pomegranate Vodka

    About Charbay Vodka

    • Vodka distilled to 192 proof from GMO-free corn grown in the Midwest. Naturally flavored with organic California pomegranate.
    • Produced by Charbay Winery & Distillery, Napa Valley, California
    • 35% alcohol/volume (70 proof)
    • Retails for around $36/750ml bottle
    • Visit Their Website

    Originally Published: June 4, 2010

    Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

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  • 06 of 11

    Charbay Ruby Red Grapefruit Vodka

    Charbay Ruby Red Grapefruit Vodka - Premium Naturally Flavored California Vodka
    Naturally flavored with read ruby red grapefruit, Charbay's version of grapefruit vodka may just be the best you have ever had. Charbay Artisan Distillery & Winery

    Typical ideas of freshness are not fresh enough when it comes to Charbay Ruby Red Grapefruit. For weeks growers watch the fruit as it ripens on the tree and when it reaches ultimate ripeness, it is picked and the process of creating a spellbinding vodka from the darkest variety of grapefruit begins.

    As the fruit is perfect only once a year, only one batch is made per year and one needs to get it while they can.

    Tasting Notes

    An appealing fruity floral aroma greets the nose and snares one into the...MORE flavors that lie ahead. The smooth, fruity entry leads to a sweet, toasty grapefruit finish that says nothing but fresh.

    One envisions a bowl of sweet cantaloupe, watermelon and strawberries on a summer brunch table with a cool breeze rustling the trees above.

    Enjoy Charbay Ruby Red Grapefruit Vodka

    • Well-chilled and served straight up with a cantaloupe garnish
    • Sea Breeze

    About Charbay Vodka

    • Vodka distilled to 192 proof from GMO-free corn grown in the Midwest. Naturally flavored with whole, fresh Texas Rio Star grapefruit.
    • Produced by Charbay Winery & Distillery, Napa Valley, California
    • 35% alcohol/volume (70 proof)
    • Retails for around $36/750ml bottle
    • Visit Their Website

    Originally Published: June 4, 2010

    Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

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  • 07 of 11

    Charbay Blood Orange Vodka

    Charbay Blood Orange Vodka - Premium Whole Fresh Fruit Vodka
    Produced with whole fresh fruit, Charbay's blood orange vodka is one of the best citrus vodkas you will find. Charbay Artisan Distillery & Winery

    There are many citrus vodkas on the market and most are sub par and very artificial tasting, Charbay's Blood Orange is an exception. It's a stunning orange vodka made from spicy-sweet, organic blood oranges ripened on the trees in Central California.

    Three months of extraction from the whole orange creates a purely natural blood orange vodka with a deep orange color. Clearly, this is the best orange vodka available to date and it is a dream to mix with.

    Tasting Notes

    A beautiful citrus bouquet...MORE fills the nose with all of the reality of California sunshine. Warm and silky, the blood orange takes on a rosy note as it waves over the tongue in a pure, simple, yet robust flavor.

    This vodka finishes nicely, leaving just enough sweet citrus behind which gently fades away.

    Enjoy Charbay Blood Orange Vodka

    About Charbay Vodka

    • Vodka distilled to 192 proof from GMO-free corn grown in the Midwest. Naturally flavored with whole, tree-ripened blood oranges.
    • Produced by Charbay Winery & Distillery, Napa Valley, California
    • 35% alcohol/volume (70 proof)
    • Retails for around $36/750ml bottle
    • Visit Their Website

    Originally Published: June 4, 2010

    Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

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  • 08 of 11

    Charbay Red Raspberry Vodka

    Charbay Red Raspberry Vodka - Hand-Distilled California Vodka
    Sweet and delicious, Charbay's red raspberry-flavored vodka is a pure delight with natural berry flavors. Charbay Artisan Distillery & Winery

    The Beatles may have changed the name to Raspberry Fields Forever had Charbay Red Raspberry Vodka been around at the time.

    After finding the freshest raspberries in the Williamette Valley of Oregon and months of extracting their sweet juices, Miles and Marko had accomplished what they set out to do and the result is this ever-so-sweet nectar.

    Tasting Notes

    An interesting contrast exists between the soft fragrance of fresh fruit and sweet berries that greets the nose like a gentle breeze and the...MORE strong raspberry flavors that tantalize the tongue. The surprise of the bold, true berry taste leads into a gentle, toasty burn and a lovely ripe raspberry aftertaste.

    Enjoy Charbay Red Raspberry Vodka

    About Charbay Red Raspberry Vodka

    • Vodka distilled to 192 proof from GMO-free corn grown in the Midwest. Naturally flavored with fresh berries from Oregon's Williamette Valley.
    • Produced by Charbay Winery & Distillery, Napa Valley, California
    • 35% alcohol/volume (70 proof)
    • Retails for around $36/750ml bottle
    • Visit Their Website

    Originally Published: June 4, 2010

    Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

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  • 09 of 11

    Charbay R5 Whiskey

    Charbay R5 Hop-Flavored Whiskey
    A unique and successful in whiskey distilling, Charbay R5 is made from a full-flavored IPA beer and retains that hoppy flavor. Charbay Artisan Distillery & Winery

    The spirits coming out of the Charbay Winery and Distillery continue to impress and explore the outer realms of what is possible in the craft liquor market. One of the Karaksavic family's newest creations is no exception and it will change everything you thought you knew about whiskey.

    R5 Whiskey is the innovation, and it is distilled from bottle-ready Racer 5 beer from Charbay's California neighbors, Bear Republic Brewery. This hoppy American IPA has been transformed into two sipping...MORE whiskies (clear and aged) that could only come from the minds of creative genius such as these.

    Beer into Whiskey

    The correlation of beer and whiskey is not a stretch because whiskey begins its life as hopless beer as it goes through the fermentation stage. It is the lack of hops and the distillation process that differentiate the two.

    To a mind like Mark Karakasevic, who grew up learning the craft from his father, Grand Master Distiller Miles Karakasevic, the evolution of distilling a well-crafted beer would only seem natural and in 1999 he began his experiments using a pilsner. This resulted in the highly acclaimed and limited editions Release I and II.

    Karakasevic eventually approached the Nosgrove family about using their Racer 5 IPA as a base for whiskey and after 4 years of perfecting the formula and process, R5 Whiskey was released in June 2012.

    Making R5 Whiskey

    The unique taste of both bottlings of R5 Whiskey is founded in the well-crafted Racer 5 beer. It is a "full-bodied beer brewed from American ale and crystal malts, and heavily hopped with Chinook, Cascade, Columbus, and Centennial hops" and it's aromatic barley and hop aspects along with its clean, smooth finish are carried through into the whiskey.

    Six thousand gallons of beer are required to produce just 590 gallons of whiskey in the 9 day, 24 hour cycle that it requires to distill R5. Charbay's copper alambic pot still is used and the heads and tails are cut by hand and the process requires a lot of tasting by the distillers, leaving only the best flavors to make the final whiskey.

    Once perfected, R5 Clear Whiskey is bottled while more of the whiskey finds its way into barrels. The current bottling of R5 Aged Whiskey has spent 22 months in French oak, and more is being held for longer, intended for future bottlings.

    Drinking R5 Whiskey

    The resulting R5 Whiskies are a pleasure to sip. The true flavors of Racer 5 are captured in R5 Clear. It has a distinct malt and hops profile with sweet notes of fruit (notably lychee and papaya) and herbs with piney undertones.

    The relaxed R5 Aged follows this profile, adding only subtle tones of oak that bring in a delightful richness. If you can acquire the beer and two whiskies at once, I highly recommend doing a side-by-side tasting. There is no other line-up that will demonstrate the true correlation between beer, distillation, and aging than this.

    One the note of how to drink R5 Whiskey, I recommend keeping it straight. Serve it on its own or over a large ice ball. If you want to try it in cocktails you may want to stick to the R5 Clear and keep it to recipes of just two or three ingredients. However, do give this whiskey a long taste and learn its unique profile before doing any mixing.

    About Charbay R5 Whiskey

    • Whiskey distilled from Racer 5 IPA beer.
    • Produced by Charbay Winery and Distillery, St. Helena, California
    • R5 Clear: unaged, R5 Aged: 22 months in French Oak
    • 49.5% alcohol/volume (99 proof)
    • Retails for around $52 R5 Clear, $75 R5 Aged (750ml bottles).
    • Released June 2012
    • Visit Their Website

    Originally Published: April 17, 2013

    Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

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  • 10 of 11

    Charbay Tapatio Blanco Tequila

    Charbay Tapatio Tequila Blanco
    Produced in Mexico, according to law, Tapatio Tequila's production is overseen by the talented distillers of Charbay to create a very fine tequila. Charbay Artisan Distillery & Winery

    I have made it no secret that every product I have tried from Charbay Winery & Distillery are among my absolute favorite distilled spirits. When I heard that they were releasing a tequila I had mixed feelings. I anticipated that it was going to at least be a good tequila because the Karakasevic family does not release just any old liquor, or wine for that matter.

    Going into this tasting with an open mind, not allowing myself to be deterred by a brand, I was once again amazed at the simple taste...MORE of the Tapatio Tequila Blanco. It's a tequila with a distinct taste and one that tequila adventurers need to add to their list.

    The Making of Tapatio Blanco Tequila

    How can a family of distillers from Napa Valley, California produce a tequila when the spirit's legal requirements state that it needs to be distilled and bottled in certain regions of Mexico? Travel to Mexico to run the still, of course.

    That is exactly what Miles and Marko Karakasevic did over a three year time span to develop Tapatio Tequila Blanco. Unlike others, the Master Distillers for Charbay oversaw the distilling process of this tequila with a hands on approach, bringing their years of experience into what Miles has said is one of the most challenging spirits to produce. I have found over the years that people with this much passion and dedication to the distilling craft can tackle any challenge and you can taste the difference.

    So, we have the first tequila distilled by California distillers made completely of blue agave grown on an estate whose GPS coordinates can be found on every bottle's label. In this instance the estate is in the rich, red soiled fields of Los Altos de Jalisco, where in my journey to the tequila fields produced some of the best tequilas you will find on the market.

    The agave plants grow for eight years before reaching the beginning of the tequila making process with a four day baking session in brick ovens, which adds a certain richness to the final product. Once the juices are extracted, the distilling team from California comes in and they bring their European-based double distilling technique that has done so well for them in the past.

    After the trips through the copper alembic pot still the tequila is "barely" filtered, cut to 80 proof, and bottled.

    The Craft of Tapatio Blanco Tequila

    Each of those elements have played important roles in producing one of the most interesting tequilas I've had to date. Where some tequilas attempt to be ultra smooth, Charbay has developed a full-flavored tequila that has that ultra smooth quality. Imagine one of the great anejo tequilas without the taste of the barrel, just pure, refined agave flavor and you have Tapatio Tequila Blanco.

    Tthere are pepper (a substantial amount) notes along with those of chamomile, cinnamon, and other herbs, but the underlying flavor you taste here is agave at its finest. I liken it to a spicy piece of the agave pina straight out of the oven, which is the richest, sweetest baked plant I have ever tasted with this wonderful caramel that easily beats any manufactured candy.

    For Charbay to have captured that is truly showing off their craft.

    Enjoy Tapatio Blanco Tequila

    How would you drink a tequila of this quality? At $58 a bottle it is not the cheapest tequila available, but is in line with other premium tequilas, therefore I say sip at will and mix carefully.

    You don't want to use this tequila in a drink that masks it's unique aspects, instead choosing tequila cocktails that compliment the natural flavors of a tequila such as this Jalisco High Tea, a Juan Collins, or a simple Tequini. Other than that, pour it over some ice, chill it, or sip it warm and enjoy.

    Tasting Notes:

    From the nose to the finish, this tequila has a vibrant mix of herbs, peppery spice, and sweet agave.

    About Tapatio Tequila Blanco

    Originally Published: August 18, 2010

    Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

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  • 11 of 11

    Charbay Green Tea and Pomegranate Aperitif Wine

    Charbay Green Tea Aperitif
    A beautiful aperitif, the green tea-flavored wine from Charbay is the finishing touch for a great dinner. Charbay Artisan Distillery & Winery

    Many companies take on the challenge of creating a "cocktail" that is ready to drink straight out of the bottle, but few are worth mentioning. However, when a distiller is as refined as Domaine Charbay releases an RTD, you have to take notice. There are two new flavors of these Charbay Aperitifs, Green Tea and Pomegranate, and they are as finely crafted as their flavored vodka counterparts. These drinks have that pure, natural flavoring in a clean, sweet aperitif wine and are ideal for a...MORE super-easy, premium before dinner drink.

    Charbay Green Tea Aperitif

    Holds the aroma of sweetened green tea and a floral bouquet of subtle rose, lavender and citrus flowers, which is appetizing on its own. It's entry is suave and seductive, leading to a herbal-icious, sweetly dry feel that tantalizes the taste buds. Served straight, it is thick with a long, rich finish but when "properly" diluted it is se magnifique.

    Charbay Pomegranate Aperitif

    Sultry, sweet pomegranate fragrances with notes of sugary sweetness open this divine experience. The palate is warm, fresh and filled with the pure flavor of pomegranate in a silky, non-syrupy presence. A shorter finish than the Green Tea, it is delightful, semi-dry and purely refreshing anyway you serve it.

    Enjoy Charbay Aperitifs

    Serve these aperitif wines on the rocks or shaken and strained with a lemon twist or wedge for the best experience. Don't worry about sipping fast, they're just as delightful once at the end of the drink (or bottle) as they were when freshly poured. That's what is amazing.

    About Charbay Aperitifs

    • Green Tea and Pomegranate flavored aperitif wines.
    • Produced and bottled by Domaine Charbay, St. Helena, California.
    • 21% alcohol/volume (42 proof)
    • Available winery-direct at Chabay.com for $36/750ml bottle.

    Originally Published: April 28, 2008

    Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.