Vermouth maker conjures meadows, holidays and whispers

Vya Extra Dry vermouth from winemaker Andrew Quady.
(Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times)

Winemaker Andrew Quady (Essensia) was the first out of the artisanal vermouth gate with Vya in 1999. While a graduate student in food science and viticulture at UC Davis, Quady had attended a lecture that professor Maynard Amerine gave on vermouth in 1972. Twenty-four years later, after a restaurateur friend suggested he try to make a vermouth, he dug out those notes. “I thought it would be a cool thing to do because no one was doing it,” says Quady. “And no one else had the information I had.”

But even with those notes, “it was a long trial-and-error exercise,” says Quady, to develop his extra-dry and sweet vermouths.

“The idea behind Vya Extra Dry is a mountain meadow in the springtime after a rainfall,” says Quady. “The sweet vermouth is your mother’s kitchen at the holidays when she’s baking.” His latest effort is Whisper-Dry. “When you taste it, the botanicals seem to evaporate in your mouth, leaving the taste of the wine. That’s the whisper effect.”