Ransom Wines & Spirits
The Whiskey Wash: New Ransom Rye, Barley, Wheat Whiskey Showcases Used Casks
Thrillist.com: America's Best Craft Distilleries
Chicagoist.com: A Conversation with Ransom Spirits at Billy Sunday
Tasting Table: America, the Vermouth-iful
Serious Eats: The Best American Vermouths
The Oregonian: New crop of Oregon-made vermouths pushes the envelope
Ransom Wines & Spirits, founded by Tad Seestedt in 1997, is an artisan winery and distillery located in McMinnville, Oregon. Tad named the operation Ransom to represent the debt incurred to start the business; Tad was paying his own ransom to realize his dream.
Initially, the distillery made small amounts of grappa, eau de vie and brandy. The production of small batch, fine wines started in 1999. In 2007, Tad took up the craft of grain-based spirits, adding gin, whiskey and vodka to the lineup. In 2010, Tad combined his crafts of winemaking and distilling to create his first dry vermouth.
Both the distillery and the winery moved several times in the early days, and in 2008, the purchase of a forty-acre farm outside of Sheridan, Oregon brought the operation together for the first time. The first vines on the farm were planted in spring 2010 and the barley in 2008. The farm is certified organic and has been since 2011. In addition to their own production, Tad sources fruit from organic, sustainable and biodynamic vineyards mostly in the Eola-Amity Hills AVA to produce small batches of site specific Riesling, Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer and Pinot Noir. The wines are hand crafted in a style that emphasizes acidity, purity, structure and length. For the spirits, Ransom sources local and organic grains where possible. Tad mashes and ferments the base wort on site weekly in small batches. The spirits are distilled in a hand-hammered, direct-fired French alembic pot still. Tad makes all of the selective cuts by taste and smell, without the use of computers or robots. This labor intensive, traditional method of distillation retains greater aromatic intensity and body from the raw materials they select with such great care.Wine Advocate 2012
"Tad Seestedt named his operation “Ransom Spirits” (begun in 1997) for the degree to which his idealistic and artisan – some might, after tasting the results, exclaim “alchemical” – pursuit of distillates distinctly delicious and rigorously founded in historical research, rendered his financial security; the patience of supportive friends; and all of his waking hours hostage to the bank. Visit the farm south of Sheridan to which Seestedt moved three years ago if you want to taste the likes of authentic Old Tom Gin, Whipper Snapper Oregon Spirit Whiskey, or a stunning recreation (long in research and development but soon to be unveiled) of fin de siecle vermouth ... but, more to the point, also if you want to experience some of the best wine values I’ve tasted anywhere in America since I was introduced to them a half dozen years ago. Wine was part of Seestedt’s labors from the beginning, and fortunately for U.S. oenophiles, he’s now ramping back up a bit – developing new vineyard contacts and contracts – after a several year lull while his distillery grew. What’s more, he’s preparing to plant his own first vineyard, though the Ransom estate is too cool to grow Pinot and its initial vines are going to be the likes of Albarino. Hallmarks of Pinot vinification chez Ransom have long included ultra-gentle extraction and moderate alcohol, though in the latter regard 2010 and 2011 – in which Seestedt says he believes not one lot came in above 12.5% potential alcohol – must be counted as exceptional."