Bergh is master distiller and founder of Calwise Spirits in Paso Robles

PASO ROBLES — Aaron Bergh, master distiller, president, and founder of Calwise Spirits in Paso Robles, has been named the new president of Distillers of SLO County. 

Aaron Bergh is master distiller of Calwise Spirits. Photo By Hakuna Matata Imagery

“It’s an honor to be able to help this group continue to grow and put Paso Robles on the map as the premier place in California for craft spirits,” said Bergh.

The Distillers of SLO County website says they are “an affiliation of farmers, winemakers, brewers, bartenders, chemists and overall spirit enthusiasts with the common interest of crafting world-class distillates in the heart of the Paso Robles, wine regions, and beyond.” The association has been around for about eight years, and Bergh joined four years ago after opening the Calwise Spirits location on Ramada Drive.

Getting through this together, Atascadero

“Over the past four years, I’ve had a chance to see it [the association] grow and participate in growing it,” Bergh added.

San Luis Obispo County, especially Paso Robles, has been known for its wine, but some craft distillers are becoming more and more popular in the area. 

“Paso Robles has become known as wine country, but it’s not just for wine anymore,” said Bergh, “There are great other artisan crafts going on here, including distilling.”

Bergh began distilling about seven years ago. He describes himself as a scientist and an artist — although they include opposite disciplines and principles. 

“I found that distilling was a very natural medium between the two,” he said.

Eventually, he found distilling, which happened to be a deeply rooted family business. During the Prohibition, the federal government shut down Bergh’s great-great-grandfathers moonshining operation. Almost a century later, Bergh reintroduced himself to the family business — legally this time.

In August, Distillers of SLO County looks forward to hosting their second distillery trail weekend. More information on this event will be available soon. The distillery trail is a part of the association’s goal to raise awareness of craft distillers in SLO County.

“Our purpose is to raise awareness of the wide variety of craft distillers we have in San Luis Obispo County and provide information to the public about what we’re doing and how they can visit us,” Bergh explains.

The secondary goal of the association is to advocate for legislation that affects their industry. Currently, they are openly advocating for the right to conduct online commerce, which is illegal now in California.

Bergh is joined by Lynette Sonne as the association’s first executive director. She is the founder of the FARMstead Ed and SLO Co Farm trail. Sonne will help Bergh raise further awareness of artisanal spirit-making group through community, membership, sponsorship outreach, and event management.

The rest of the 2022 Board of Directors includes Monica Villicana from Re:Find Distillery (vice president), Max Udsen from Bethel Rd. Distillery & Winery, (secretary), and Lola Glossner from Pendray’s Distillery. Board members include Steve Autry of Autry Cellars Artisan Wines, Paul Quinn of SLO Stills, and Kevin Coulton of Willow Creek Distillery.

For more information on Distillers of SLO County and their distillery trail map, visit pasoroblesdistillerytrail.com

Featured image courtesy of SLO Distillers.