Jorg Rupf and Lance Winters figured out how to make straight vodka taste good. First they pot distill a vodka from expensive viognier wine. Then they blend it into an excellent column still wheat vodka. Here’s the magic: there’s no harsh alcoholic smell or taste, just soft beautiful purity. VODKA FROM GRAPES – it’s a little strange. But we couldn’t seem to find a “straight” vodka we truly liked; some were harsh; all of them lacked the depth of our flavored spirits. I realized this was going to be a challenge. I knew we had to find a way to make straight vodka our way – distilling it right from whole, just-picked fruit – skin, stems, seeds, leaves and all. Enter the Viognier. This grape has low acid and amazing fruit and floral aromas. It takes the harsh ethanol bite right out of the spirit, and it gives our straight vodka a sweet, smooth, satisfying feel. We blend a Viognier eau de vie with spirit made from midwestern wheat to make a perfectly balanced, fruity, “straight” vodka. The viognier is not an easy grape. It has low and unpredictable yields and we can only pick it when its fully ripe – a window of a day or two. Sometimes I think we might be fixated on doing things the hard way. Probably it’s just the German way. When I taste the results I remember why.