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.
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 They struggled through the outdated Prohibition Era regulations (unlike our Craft Beer companies who have earned relaxed alcohol practices to create their brews.)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.
UPDATE July 16, 2015: Just 6 days after we published this post and our interview below of Em Rossi, the Petaluma Argus Courier publishes this July 16, 2015 article: Em Rossi singing her way to a career in musicby Kate Hoover, Argus-Courier Intern. We wish Em the best and look forward to her songs hitting the music charts.
Many good things come out of Petaluma and up-an-coming singer/songwriter Em Rossi is primed to be one of them. A Petaluma native, Rossi’s music is her passion and form of expression. It’s what she does to brighten a dreary day and to make the good days even better. Rossi attends Petaluma High School and at 17 years old will be a senior in the fall. Her recently release debut single, “MADNESS” below will be playing on KSRO 1350 and FM 103.5, where Rossi is scheduled to be interviewed on August 4th.
Here is her latest single called “Madness”:
Ashley Collingwood: How did you get started singing?
Em Rossi: Singing was just kind of something that came naturally to me. From a young age my parents always said that I just made noise around the house—I would sing to the radio, I’d sing to the music being played everywhere—so around eight years old they finally decided “okay, put her in music lessons.” So after that I started being a little bit trained and then it just kind of went on from there.
Ashley: What inspires your music?
Em: I would say what inspires my music is just my life experiences in the past year. You know my father passed away unexpectedly so that was a major personal change in my life. So with this new album I just focused on using that as my vent to really express the thoughts and emotions that were going through my head and just get out what I needed to say and wanted to share to people.
CLICK ON PAGE 2 BELOW TO CONTINUE READING THE INTERVIEW
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Don’t miss Chef Abe’s Award Winning Chili Recipe at the end of this interview
This year’s Great Petaluma Chili Cookoff was the best attended in its 18 year history. There was 1050 attendees, 40 challenger teams, 26 breweries which is the highest participation in every category since inception. In our post VIDEO/PHOTOS: Winner’s of the Great Petaluma Chili Cook-Offwe highlighted this years winners. The Grand Champion this year was Taps under the supervision of their Chef Abe Asay who was awarded a Golden Ticket to enter the 2015 World Food Competition in Florida. This week we sat with Abe to learn more about him ANDhe agreed to share his award winning recipe to Positively Petaluma readers.
Wayne:Was this the first time you have won in the Chili competition?
Abe: No, we have won first place in the Restaurant category 2 or 3 years in a row?
Wayne:How long have you been a chef at Taps?
Abe: I have been here since they started – it will be six years in September.
Wayne:Where you a chef prior to Taps?
Abe: Yes I was a chef in Orange County at a restaurant called the Cafe Mezzaluna.
Wayne:Is that where you are originally from?
Abe: No I am a native of Petaluma.
Wayne:Where did you you get your inspiration to become a chef?
Abe: My parents and grandparents liked to cook – and they always cooked good food. We grew our own vegetables. I also was part of the 4H club and learned how animals are raised.
Wayne:When was the first meal you cooked?
Abe: I was about 7-8 years old and it was Thanksgiving Day. I remember my grandmother and grandfather telling me I better not try cook anything outside our traditional Thanksgiving dinner. They told him “No fancy stuff”.
CLICK PAGE 2 TO FIND OUT IF REAL CHILI HAS BEANS AND CHEF ASAY’s OPINION
Donagh McKeown produced this video which is made for Irish TV “Irish Voices” in a segment he calls “California Matters.” This is an excellent portrait of our former “Good Egg” telling his story about him, the Aqus (Cafe) Community, and his business.
Steve Jaxon radio broadcaster for KSRO interviewed Petaluma’s Laura Sunday and Houston Porter. Sunday tells how the Great Petaluma Chili Cookoff started and Porter, a Positively Petaluma contributor, will be supervising the event from oversees. During the interview they tasted some chili from a few contestants – you will have to watch to video to find out. Also they announce the “Golden Ticket” that will go to the Grand Champion this year.
This morning Steve Sansweet CEO of Rancho Obi-Wan was interview by ABC Perth – and Australian broadcast (The recording is on page 2 of this post). What is the significance of May 4th to Star Wars fans? It is the earliest known record chronicling Lucasfilm‘s Empire Strikes Back. Alan Arnold on Friday May 4th announced the following statement when Margaret Thatcher won the election to be Britain’s first woman prime minister in 1979:
“Margaret Thatcher has won the election and become Britain’s first woman prime minister. To celebrate their victory her party took a half page of advertising space in the London Evening News. This message, referring to the day of victory, was ‘May the Fourth Be With You, Maggie. Congratulations,’ further proof of the extent to which Star Wars has influenced us all.”
This was later proclaimed to be “Star Wars Day” and LucasFilm embraced the spirit from their fans. Fans spread the word with #StarWarsDay. This year it is even a bigger year in anticipation of the release of a new trilogy starting with the much anticipate Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Petaluma native Hoby Wedler has always been blind. Born with microphthalmia, a rare eye abnormality, Wedler lives in a world not dominated by sight, allowing him to explore the world through his other senses.
Always curious about the world around him, Wedler enjoys and has become an expert at identifying and categorizing things by their scents and tastes. “I’ve always paid attention to my nose and what I smell around me,” said Wedler. “Whenever I come to Petaluma from anywhere that I’ve been … Petaluma always smells fresh and incredible. And I love the smell of grass. Of fresh blooming grass mixed with manure and mixed with the smell of farm and also the smell of fresh coastal influences … another aroma that I love is Petaluma just after the rain when you really get those fresh green smells, those almost wooded smells, it’s absolutely stellar. Can’t get enough of it.”
As a child, Wedler loved growing up in Petaluma, which always had a sense of truly being home for him. “There’s so much going on in the world around us, but we can always come back to this town and feel secure,” said Wedler. “I love the sense of ownership that everybody gets who’s grown up here. We own a little piece of this … you feel a sense of this town is mine.”
Wedler graduated from Petaluma High School in 2005 and now goes to UC Davis, where he is working on a Ph.D. in computational organic chemistry. His love for chemistry stems from his time at Petaluma High, where he took chemistry from Lee Boyes. Wedler recalls, “It was her constant love of chemistry that she brought to the class, talking about how amazing it was, how cool it was to work in the chemical field. Another thing about Ms. Boyes is that she just had an infectious desire to teach.”
CLICK ON PAGE 2 TO LEARN MORE ON WEDLER’S “TASTING IN THE DARK” CLASS AT COPPOLA WINERY
Ken Weaver was recently named editor at ‘All About Beer’ Magazine. All About Beer president & publisher Chris Rice said “Ken has his finger on the pulse of today’s beer releases,” and Weaver admits he’s tasted many versions of the sudsy beverage.
Before he earned an MFA in creative writing from the University of Maryland, Weaver earned an undergraduate degree in physics from Carnegie-Mellon and then a master’s in physics from Cornell University. It’s at Cornell where Ken met his wife, a Nicasio native, Anneliese Schmidt.
According to their website:
Weaver, who is based in Petaluma, CA, previously served as editor in chief of RateBeer Weekly. He also serves as a regular contributor to FSR Magazine, focusing on improving beer’s presence in the full-service restaurant industry; columnist and reviewer for the Rare Beer Club; and publisher of his beer release newsletter 3 Beer Island. His first book, The Northern California Craft Beer Guide, was named a finalist for an NCIBA Book of the Year Award. In 2013, Weaver earned first-place honors in the North American Guild of Beer Writers’ (earned a total of 3 awards from the NAGB) contest in the Best Beer and Food Writing category.
Petaluma (and Sonoma County) is fast becoming a player in the craft brew industry with companies like Lagunitas, Petaluma Hills, 101 North, Hen House, and Dempseys. Petaluma also has its own wine and spirits association called the Petaluma Craft Guild. They are brewers, distillers & vintners of Petaluma who come together to promote the craft spirit of the city. Each year Petaluma is host to the Petaluma River Craft Beer Festival (mark your calendars for this year its on September 12, 2015). Also Petaluma will host its 1st annual Sonoma County Home Brewer’s Competition (so keep your eyes open for potential new talent coming our way) and that will be held on May 23rd at the Veterans Memorial Building. So naturally after we learned that Ken became editor of a national beer magazine, we had to learn more. We thought you would like to as well so here is what Ken had to say: