By July 5, 2011 0 Comments Read More →

The Moon Shines Over Modesto

By Greg Cobb
A basement inspires the imagination
of many young minds. It’s a place where
a single light bulb may hang with a dangling
chain to turn on and off the light.
For Lee Palleschi, Master Distiller and
owner of Valley Spirits of Modesto, a
basement was where his passion began
and now thrives with the light burning
brighter than ever.
“When I was a young boy, my Dad
used to make wine in the basement. I
remember him crushing the grapes and
telling me that this was the way Grampy
used to do it. I loved the smell of the
fermenting grapes, so sweet and fruity.
Dad explained the process of making
wine to me but I was young and did not
give it the attention I should have.
After several years working in the
food processing business, Palleschi met
a man interested in making ethanol fuel.
He started practicing fermentation with
sugar and his childhood memories of
his father’s wine making began to consume
his thoughts.
Palleschi began researching the art
of distilling vodka. For over two years
he worked with as many as a hundred
different recipes. Palleschi would not
be satisfied until the product was perfected.
“We would have neighborhood
block parties and Lee would bring a
few different samples.” Said John Boyatt,
owner of O’Mally’s bar. “I’m not
a vodka drinker. I’m more of a tequila
drinker. But Lee would make us try his
samples anyway. Now, this is the best
seller in O’Malley’s.”
It took nearly a year to get a license
to distill. In order to get a license, you
have to comply with both federal and
state regulations. “It was a one man
show to start with and I learned a lot
through the process.” Said Palleschi.
The one man show didn’t last long
past the licensing. Palleschi says this
business has truly opened his eyes to
the wealth of the human spirit. “I’ve
met an amazing group of people and
this has turned into a real grass roots
project.” “From talking to others in the
industry who are willing to share their
knowledge to the local friends and Cold
House family that have been so generous
to lend a hand, I am overwhelmed
with the kindness and encouragement
that I have received.” Valley Spirits,
what is now the parent company of
Cold House Vodka, now has 5 employees
and has plans to grow.Cold House Vodka is a premium
vodka that is 5 times distilled to ensure
that only the purest alcohol reaches every
bottle. “I’ve never been interested
in producing quantity as much as quality.”
Says Palleschi. “I knew from the
beginning that quality was the most
important and after that I would find a
way to produce quantity.” Quantity has
been a big hurdle for Cold House. Currently,
you can purchase Cold House
Vodka in Save Mart stores throughout
California as well as local grocer
Obrien’s Markets.
For those that enjoy a cocktail while
dining or socializing, Cold House has
become a favorite at many local establishments.
“Tom Gallo, owner of Galletto’s
Ristorante in downtown was the
first bar to carry my vodka. I really appreciated
that support early on.” Said
Palleschi. Since then, other locals have
embraced Cold House as a local favorite.
Les Knoll, owner of Copper Rhino
and O’Ryleigh’s in Merced and Stockton,
has helped to promote Cold House.
Not just because it’s local, but because
it truly wins the taste test on a regular
basis. Knolls says, “When you come
into one of my clubs, I’ll give you the
taste test, if you don’t pick Cold House,
I’ll buy your drink.” I’m not sure if that
offer still stands, but next time you see
Les, it’s worth a shot. Or two!
Valley Spirits has recently purchased
new equipment and has plans to
increase production to 150,000 cases
per year. While other premium vodka
brands cost more, those that have tried
Cold House realize that this product is
pleasing to the taste and the budget.
It’s causing an increased demand and
Palleschi wants to be able to meet that
Palleschi is in test mode for flavored
vodka. Peach, lemon, chocolate, cherry,
orange and even almond are some
of the flavors that could be hitting the
shelf soon. Palleschi is also looking
forward to the release of Moonshine
Bandits Outlaw Moonshine, a premium
whiskey product promoted by the
chart climbing Moonshine Bandits.
So, the next time you’re enjoying an
evening under the light of the moon, try
a local Vodka that will tantalize your
taste. If the moon isn’t readily available,
just turn on the basement light
and let your imagination take over. Either
way, your choice of Cold House
Vodka will definitely make the evening
more interesting and your support of a
local business will undoubtedly appreciated.
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