Gary Ellam and his wife have owned Elgin Winery and Distillery for 40 years and don’t plan on closing their doors anytime soon.

Ellam said he and his wife grew up in the alcohol-making industry, making them want to have a distillery of their own.

If its in your blood you just kind of feel that draw to it, Ellam said. “It was a natural evolution for us. We were the first licensed craft distillery in the state. 

The couple makes wines, rums, whiskeys, vodkas and other liquor. Ellam said they like to have a variety of beverages so there is something for everyone.

We create a wide range of products designed for everyone to come in and feel welcome,” he said. “All we want folks to do is come and enjoy themselves. I mean thats what life is about.

Ellam says his products are unique because he uses local ingredients from both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border.

As a small family winery and distillery we understand how difficulty it is to operate from day to day when youre relying on yourself, he said.

Locals and visitors can sample the drinks in Elgin, but they aren’t they only ones enjoying what’s made in Santa Cruz County. The business has earned top awards from all over the world.

Weve done exceptionally well with both critics and consumers, Ellam said. On the distillery side we make the world’s best rum.

In June, their rum won the best of class award at the world spirits competition in San Francisco. Ellam said they first started winning awards in 2018. The master distiller was inducted into the Gin Guild earlier this summer, in London.  

It was phenomenal, Ellam said.

While the business has been operating for the last 40 years, Ellam said he doesn’t see them closing anytime soon.

The beauty of this product is it will long outlive the people that make it,” he said. “The problem with the product is it take forever to get to the point that its exceptional.

Were not going anywhere.”