Quantcast
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

California Spirits pivots into packaging

San Marcos distillery out, Poway bottling and canning plant in

California Spirits putting other brands first with its new co-packing venture.
California Spirits putting other brands first with its new co-packing venture.

Over the past couple of years, when I’ve asked local spirit startups where they produce their alcohol, I’ve quite often been met with the same answer: San Marcos. Specifically, at the small batch distillery home to California Spirits Co. Since it launched in 2014, eight different brands — including Pier View Gin, Misadventure Vodka, and Pacific Coast Spirits — have to some extent contract distilled at California Spirits. Some still do. Or did, until its stills went quiet in July.

Not because California Spirits Co. has gone out of business, but because it’s shifted its model. Though the San Marcos location is closing, the business has moved its operations to a larger location in Poway. And while its operations there don’t include a still, they do involve a new bottling line and massive canning line, with the capacity to package around three million cans per month. “It’s bigger than the entire building in San Marcos,” says Casey Miles, founder of California Spirits.

When I first met Miles, he showed me a four-inch-thick binder stuffed with pages of federal, state, and local regulations overseeing liquor production. Though low hurdles for billion dollar corporations producing extremely high volumes, they represent the litany of nearly insurmountable challenges he told me small batch spirit makers face when trying to compete in the liquor market.

Another: disproportionately high cost on packaging. In other words, the cost per glass bottle for a small manufacturer is considerably higher than the same bottle for a high volume producer, which means higher, less competitive retail pricing. So when sourcing bottles for California Spirits, Miles ordered enough to get a break on costs and became a bottle distributor to other spirit producers.

Though I didn’t realize it at the time, Miles was hinting at the direction his business would take, three years later. “We’re doing everything we can to disrupt that model,” he explains to me now, “We’re a beverage co-packer.”

In San Marcos, all those spirit labels were bottling their spirits by hand. When the new packaging plant in Poway goes online (pending approval according to yet another set of city regulations), California Spirits will work with small businesses, either as partners or clients, to bottle and can high volumes of liquid for retail distribution at lower costs than they could achieve themselves, with Cal Spirits taking on the up-front investment and regulatory hurdles to do so. “If you’re not a billion-dollar outfit, you don’t have any opportunity to do that.” says Miles. In addition to three brands continuing with Cal Spirits from San Marcos, Miles says five others have signed on. “They are starting from scratch and we are helping them with everything from product development and branding to supply chain and retail.”

Packaging isn’t restricted to booze products either. About ninety percent of California Spirits agreements thus far are to package soft drink brands, including flavored sparkling water, a la La Croix. And when it comes to spirits, the business will no longer be contract distilling them from scratch, instead outsourcing contract brand needs to high volume producers. “We are sourcing alcohol that is cleaner and higher quality than we ever could make in the first place,” he says, “for a tenth of what we could make it for.”

Meanwhile, the rum and whiskey California Spirits produced will take a back seat to the new business plan. It may return in the future, but for now Miles says, “We're focusing on packaging other people's products first.”

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

A hashtag is not sufficient this week

Why are we are surprised when our culture throws up chaos and violence?
Next Article

A queercore cacophony

The Gay Agenda, Evening’s Empire, Wayne Riker, Timothy H, The New Regime
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

California Spirits putting other brands first with its new co-packing venture.
California Spirits putting other brands first with its new co-packing venture.

Over the past couple of years, when I’ve asked local spirit startups where they produce their alcohol, I’ve quite often been met with the same answer: San Marcos. Specifically, at the small batch distillery home to California Spirits Co. Since it launched in 2014, eight different brands — including Pier View Gin, Misadventure Vodka, and Pacific Coast Spirits — have to some extent contract distilled at California Spirits. Some still do. Or did, until its stills went quiet in July.

Not because California Spirits Co. has gone out of business, but because it’s shifted its model. Though the San Marcos location is closing, the business has moved its operations to a larger location in Poway. And while its operations there don’t include a still, they do involve a new bottling line and massive canning line, with the capacity to package around three million cans per month. “It’s bigger than the entire building in San Marcos,” says Casey Miles, founder of California Spirits.

When I first met Miles, he showed me a four-inch-thick binder stuffed with pages of federal, state, and local regulations overseeing liquor production. Though low hurdles for billion dollar corporations producing extremely high volumes, they represent the litany of nearly insurmountable challenges he told me small batch spirit makers face when trying to compete in the liquor market.

Another: disproportionately high cost on packaging. In other words, the cost per glass bottle for a small manufacturer is considerably higher than the same bottle for a high volume producer, which means higher, less competitive retail pricing. So when sourcing bottles for California Spirits, Miles ordered enough to get a break on costs and became a bottle distributor to other spirit producers.

Though I didn’t realize it at the time, Miles was hinting at the direction his business would take, three years later. “We’re doing everything we can to disrupt that model,” he explains to me now, “We’re a beverage co-packer.”

In San Marcos, all those spirit labels were bottling their spirits by hand. When the new packaging plant in Poway goes online (pending approval according to yet another set of city regulations), California Spirits will work with small businesses, either as partners or clients, to bottle and can high volumes of liquid for retail distribution at lower costs than they could achieve themselves, with Cal Spirits taking on the up-front investment and regulatory hurdles to do so. “If you’re not a billion-dollar outfit, you don’t have any opportunity to do that.” says Miles. In addition to three brands continuing with Cal Spirits from San Marcos, Miles says five others have signed on. “They are starting from scratch and we are helping them with everything from product development and branding to supply chain and retail.”

Packaging isn’t restricted to booze products either. About ninety percent of California Spirits agreements thus far are to package soft drink brands, including flavored sparkling water, a la La Croix. And when it comes to spirits, the business will no longer be contract distilling them from scratch, instead outsourcing contract brand needs to high volume producers. “We are sourcing alcohol that is cleaner and higher quality than we ever could make in the first place,” he says, “for a tenth of what we could make it for.”

Meanwhile, the rum and whiskey California Spirits produced will take a back seat to the new business plan. It may return in the future, but for now Miles says, “We're focusing on packaging other people's products first.”

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Rouleur switches gears to override pandemic hurdles

Since moving onward is no longer an option, the Carlsbad brewer found a way upward
Next Article

French breakfast at Zinqué Cafe

Such crunching, oozing goodness
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Art Reviews — W.S. Di Piero's eye on exhibits Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Best Buys — San Diego shopping Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits City Lights — News and politics Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Famous Former Neighbors — Next-door celebs Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Here's the Deal — Chad Deal's watering holes Just Announced — The scoop on shows Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Of Note — Concert picks Out & About — What's Happening Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Pour Over — Grab a cup Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer News — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Set 'em Up Joe — Bartenders' drink recipes Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Sports — Athletics without gush Street Style — San Diego streets have style Suit Up — Fashion tips for dudes Theater Reviews — Local productions Theater antireviews — Narrow your search Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Waterfront — All things ocean Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close