Back in 1997, Andy Quady,the founder of Quady Winery, speaking with friends in the restaurant biz, was in a way dared to come up with a vermouth that tastes good, and I mean GOOD. Like, the kind of good that means you want more of it in your glass, not less. What his friends didn’t realize, was that underneath his obvious passion for making wine, my Dad has an enormous love of plants, the outdoors, and all things aroma-therapeutic.
So, Andy spent over two years fiddling around with herbs from around the world – lavender, linden, gentian, galangal, orris – to name but a few, and after perfuming the house up for so long his family started to develop an aptitude for picking out all kinds of delicate flavors and aromas in the mixtures he created. At the end of about two years of obsessing over bitter qualities balanced with sweet, Vya Sweet and Vya Extra Dry Vermouth were born. On the market in 2000, they were, like many of Andy’s creations, a little before their time. The craft cocktail buzz had yet to hit, mixologist was not a word in anyone’s vocabulary, and herbs in wine – well that was just not what the customers were asking for.
Still, Quady Winery had proved itself on the dessert wine scene back in 1990 and there was hope that a market for such an outstanding product would begin to build. Tireless representatives pounded the pavement in San Francisco and New York. Some places were less receptive than others. One rep, his story now a part of Vya lore, had a route full of tiny, closet sized liquor stores on corners in NYC. After going door to door all day, asking, will you try my vermouth? And getting the response, Vermouth? You gotta be kidding me? He asked his final account, will you try my Vya? And he received the response, what the *** is Vya? To which he replied: It’s Vermouth You Asshole! This wasn’t exactly the line he was sent out on the street with, but you can understand the frustration, and sometimes you just gotta vent.
So, we’re still not in all those tiny little corner stores. But, today the craft cocktail world is booming. We now have a place and a following as a part of the artisanal, small batch, hand infused, craft cocktail community. There’s nothing like Vya Vermouth. It is infused by hand, in small batches, with enormous big spoons: as the base wine sits, herbs are stirred in carefully and the aromas fill the winery. It’s truly original….and it’s made with a lot of love, perseverance, and passion for wine and for life.