The Evolution of a Master Distiller

Miles Karakasevic
12th Generation Winemaker & Master Distiller

The title of Master Distiller is granted by a teaching master to an accomplished apprentice who has matched or bettered the skill level of the teacher.

Monday March 1, 1751: Vienna, Austria
The House of Karakasevic (Karakash) is recognized by the Austrian-Hungarian imperial court of Empress Maria Theresa. The family makes wines and brandies.

1954: Novi Sad, Yugoslavia
In the foothills above the Danube, Miles Karakasevic enters his family's 300-year-old profession

1959: Novi Sad, Yugoslavia
He follows in the footsteps of 11 generations of his family and earns his title as Master Distiller.

April, 1962: Yugoslavia
Miles receives his degree in Enology and Viticulture from the University of Belgrade.

November, 1962: Quebec City, Canada
He begins his life in the "New World." Miles enters the United States as a professional winemaker in

Michigan (1968). Miles becomes Asst. Winemaster at Beringer in Napa Valley (1972).

September 1, 1983: Ukiah, California
The Karakasevic Family begins distilling and making wine under their own winery name of Domaine Karakash. The first products are Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Alambic Methode Charentais Brandy in the classic Cognac style.

September 1, 1987: Mendocino, California
At Winesong Festival, the Karakasevic family releases CHARBAY, the world's only Dessert Chardonnay. It is a barrel-fermented Chardonnay laced with hand-distilled Methode Charentais Brandy Liqueur.

August, 1991: St. Helena, California
The Karakasevic family changes the business name to Domaine CHARBAY; the United States' first and only family owned and operated Winery and Alambic Charentais Distillery.

September 1, 1992: St. Helena, California
The Karakasevic Family releases a line of handcrafted spirits, including Nostalgie (Black Walnut Liqueur), Grappa di Marko and Calvad'or (California Apple Brandy). All are Single Barrel Releases. A select amount from each new barrel is bottled in a hand-blown glass flask
and packed in a wooden box.

November 1993: St. Helena, Napa Valley, CA (Home Base since 1972)
Miles, Marko & Susan Karakasevic build the Winery and Distillery beside their home on Spring Mountain, their home since 1972. Miles designs a new 25 gallon copper Pot-Still. It is the first true cognac style pot still to be made in the U.S. The family now distills with this still and their original 1,000 gallon French-made Alambic Pot-Still in Mendocino County.

April 1994: After three years of work, (including two years of pursuing Washington's BATF bureaucratic permits) PACHANGA Sunroot Spirit is released. Distilled from Sunroots, tubers of the perennial sunflower indigenous to America, it is the very first original American Spirit. Pachanga is also the newest primal spirit to be distilled the world in almost 200 years (the last one was Tequila). It is the inspiration of Miles & his American Spirit.

November 1996: The Karakasevic Family Releases their first barrel of Distillers' Port, made with late harvest Cabernet Sauvignon and five of their own hand-distilled spirits. It is a salute to Miles' son, Marko, who now has committed to carrying on the family heritage as the 13th continuous Generation in the line of the Karakasevic family Winemakers & Distillers.

September 1997: Miles designs and builds a new Still for the distillation of essential oils, which will be used in his future production of perfumes.

Spring 1998: Miles and Marko send in the formulas for California's first Pastis and three flavored Vodkas made with whole fruit. Miles also creates a new California Vermouth from botanicals for Duckhorn Vineyards. Miles goes to the International Perfume Conference in France to further his research for distilling perfume & essential oils.

September 1998: Domaine CHARBAY releases Blood Orange Flavored Vodka, Meyer Lemon Flavored Vodka, and California's first-ever Pastis (complete with traditional water decanter).

1999: Miles and Marko distill CHARBAY Whiskey. It will age in new, charred American Oak barrels for at least two years. An unusual release program is already planned. Ruby Red Grapefruit Vodka and Key Lime Vodka are released. Marko takes his Vodkas national. The XIIIth generation has made its mark.

2000: Limited amounts of Cabernet Sauvignon and Port are made. Miles continues to work on new spirits.

2001: Miles and Marko installed a bottling line for 100 ML bottles for spirits. This opens a new gift line for the spirits.

2002: What a year…CHARBAY Whiskey, CHARBAY Vodka, CHARBAY Fresh Fruit Vodka 100mls and CHARBAY Pastis (Release Two)

2003: 20th Anniversary in North America. The adventure of the year: Miles and Marko decided it was time to distill CHARBAY Rum and CHARBAY Tahitian Vanilla Bean Rum.

2004: CHARBAY Rum was released. It earned instant recognition as one of the Top 15 Rums of Consequence and various other awards. Miles, meanwhile, was already moving on…

2005: As ever, on the cutting edge of flavors…CHARBAY Green Tea Vodka and Raspberry Vodka were released.

2006: This year saw the launch of CHARBAY Pomegranate Vodka, as well as the luscious 2003 Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon and 2005 CHARBAY Rosé. Many trips to Tequila – research has started.

2007: CHARBAY Soft launches ultra-premium Ready-to-Drink Aperitifs (Green Tea + Pomegranate)

2009: Charbay Releases CHARBAY Tequila Blanco. Distilled in Arandas, Mexico by Miles & Marko. In April, Marko and Jenni are married. Later in the year, Marko becomes a Master Distiller with the release of his Doubled & Twisted Light Whiskey.

2010: Charbay’s long awaited Alambic Pot Still Brandy is being prepared for release in 750 & 375 size bottles. 100% Folle Blanche, distilled in 1983.

Miles & Marko at the still (1999)
Can't wait to keep recording the pages of history :)