Welcome to the debut issue of Spirited magazine.

The idea for this publication came from the simple observation that, in recent years, the beer, spirits, cider and wine industries have blended. There’s crossover and interest between all these sectors — and, often, beverage producers are the most curious consumers. We want to share stories, techniques, trends and research in a way that entertains and informs, advancing the conversation and giving those in the adult beverage community a way to connect and learn from one another. Today, it’s about collaboration, not competition.

Spirited is based in Sonoma County, Calif., a place well known for its contributions to the wine industry. What may be less apparent is its role in the burgeoning craft beer, hard cider and distilled spirits arenas. Check our destination piece, “The Crawl: Sonoma County,” to find out where to go next time you’re here for fabulous artisan cocktails, craft beer and cider, and elegant, thoughtful wine lists. Going forward, we’ll spotlight “Maker Districts” and beverage hotspots across the county, issue-by-issue.

Our stories this time focus on production. We have information about tracking software and microbiome DNA mapping for vineyards and wineries, but we don’t stop there. Whether it’s hearing from a family of bourbon still makers, uncovering what the inspiration is to barrel age beer or learning what goes into becoming a master distiller, I hope you’ll enjoy reading these stories as much as we did planning, researching and writing them.

To sweeten the pot, we’re including a few pages of “Tasting Notes,” based on some of this issue’s articles. Check out our suggestions for barrel-aged beer on page 69, and learn more about Sonoma County’s cocktail culture with a few “belly warmers” on page 94. As part of our regular coverage, we have columnists, industry news, competition results and a calendar of upcoming events and trade shows. If you’d like to submit an event or news item for consideration, send it to info@spiritedbiz.com.

Personally, I’m already on a learning curve. Growing up in Sonoma County and working previously at a general business-to-business publication, I’ve had plenty of opportunities to explore Wine Country and learn about that industry. I’ve also had a more generalized knowledge of beer, cider and spirits (though admittedly, mostly from a consumer’s perspective). Now I’m all in, ready to discover the next big thing, shine a spotlight on deserving makers, introduce ideas and innovations, find where and how these industries connect, and encourage them to share knowledge.

It’s been a whirlwind getting this publication ready to meet the world, but every conversation we’ve had (with story subjects, industry leaders and advocacy groups) has been encouraging.

Now it’s your turn. Please let us know what you’d like to see on our pages.

Here’s to new adventures — cheers!
Alexandra Russell