KICKSTARTER OF AMERICAN CRAFT SPIRITS RENAISSANCE
Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Distilling Institute and is a five-time nominee for Outstanding Wine & Spirits Professional by the James Beard Foundation.
Jörg Rupf is a living legend. In the craft spirits world, he is respected as both “a genius distiller” (Spirit Journal) and “a maverick” (San Francisco Chronicle).
When Jörg founded St. George Spirits in 1982, he laid the groundwork for the modern American artisan distillation movement. At the time, he was new to the United States, having come to this country as Germany's youngest judge on assignment from the Ministry of Culture. He fell in love with the Bay Area’s nascent food culture and its embrace of top-quality raw materials, which resonated with what he already knew from his family’s generations of distilling in the Black Forest.
Inspired by the spectacular quality of fruit growing in California orchards, Jörg began making eau de vie from pears, raspberries, cherries, and even kiwi fruit on a single, 65-gallon Holstein pot still. At the time, few Americans knew what eau de vie was and there was no craft distillation movement in the United States to speak of. But the quality of Jörg’s distillates and his commitment to his craft earned him followers and supporters—including Julia Child, who wrote him with words of encouragement about what she described as his “newsworthy” endeavors.
Jörg began to apply fermentation techniques that weren’t commonly used back in Europe, techniques that would eventually allow the quality of eau de vie coming from St. George to best the European competition in Austria’s prestigious Destillata blind tasting. He also trained, mentored, and inspired many other distillers who went on to establish thriving distilleries of their own, creating a ripple effect that continues to spread throughout the craft distilling community to this day.
Though Jörg retired from St. George Spirits in 2010, his reverence for extraordinary raw materials and exacting technical standards continue to shape every spirit that bears the St. George name.