Germain-Robin/Alambic was founded in the early 80s by Hubert Germain-Robin and Ansley Coale, Jr. They met in a chance happening when Ansley picked up Hubert and his wife who were hitchhiking through California. Ansley is a former professor of classics at Berkeley turned sheep farmer and Hubert came from a prominent family of distillers in France (who have been producing cognac since 1782). With Coale's suggestion that Hubert distill local grapes, Hubert returned to France and obtained an "alambic" still (one with a long neck which produces a smoother product) which was installed in a small wooden cabin overlooking the sheep farm. Each year Hubert, using traditional methods that have been almost entirely abandoned in France, hand-distills 80 barrels of a true connoisseur's brandy, equal to cognacs from the finest smaller producers.
California produces the majority of wine made in the United States. Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, Zinfandel and Pinot Noir dominate the wine production in California, but many other varietials thrive in the California climate. Many fine wines are produced in California using Mediterranean grapes.