Petaluma’s Griffo Distillery Breaking Through The Spirits Biz

Griffo Family, Photo By Chad Dunbar

We interviewed Jennifer and Mike Griffo, owners of Griffo Distillery in Petaluma, and found them to be hard-working and well educated.  Jennifer has an M.A. at Stanford University in International Development. Mike Griffo has a PhD in Physics from University of California, Santa Cruz.  They have lived in the bay area now for 15 years. In 2008 they got the idea of creating Griffo Distillery while lying on a picnic blanket at the Peay Vineyard. They were reflecting that owning a winery would be a good life for them — one that would keep close to their family and community.  However they didn’t want the demanding agricultural challenges that comes with managing a vineyard.  That was their “Aha” moment when the idea of a spirits distillery – exactly what they want to do without the headache of growing grapes.

Griffo Distillery, Photo By Chad Dunbar

The distillery business for the Griffo’s has been a labor of love.  Their blood, sweat, and tears have poured into this small family-owned spirits company. Mike Griffo spent three years as a “Qaunt” or doing Quantitative Analysis for Barclays in New York to raise the money to start the distillery.  Five years of penny pinching and planning went into starting this operation. They decided on a (infamous) Scott Street location because it is anchored with other craft beer and spirit makers, like Petaluma Hills and Lagunitas, as well as close to their family. They struggled through the outdated Prohibition Era regulations (unlike our Craft Beer companies who have earned relaxed alcohol practices to create their brews.)  These laws allow them only a limited number of options on how they could distribute their products. The Griffos are the founding members of the Petaluma Craft Guild.

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