Wednesday, April 8

BEHIND THE BRAND: Rhine Hall




Rhine Hall is a Chicago distillery that specializes in fruit brandies (schnapps). Their beautifully crafted bottles, impeccable branding, and delicious spirits have been popping up all over town and catching our eye...and our taste buds! With flavors like apple, plum, and mango (which is only made in one other location around the world), Rhine Hall is not only making a name for themselves as the hippest distillery in Chicago, but they're bringing fruit brandy back in style! We met up with owner, Jenny Solberg, and her adorable pup, Atlas, at Rhine Hall to learn more about distilling fruit brandy and how her family has played a vital role in making her business come to life.


Tell us a little bit about yourself.
My name is Jennifer Solberg. Originally from the Chicago area, I moved away for about 8 years, living everywhere from Vermont to Denver to San Francisco. I was working in tech in San Francisco but eventually made my way back to Chicago to open Rhine Hall Distillery with my Dad. I live in Wicker Park now with my fiancé and dog, Atlas.  

So…why brandy? 
Rhine Hall is the product of a family hobby turned business. In the 70's my Dad, Charlie, played professional hockey in Austria. Rhine Hall (Rhinehalle) is the name of the rink where he played! When he wasn’t playing hockey, he spent time with the locals, and they taught him how to make this liquor native to that region. They called it schnapps. Some call it eau de vie. But in America it's known as fruit brandy. Whatever name it goes by, the definition is the same: 100% distilled from fruit. My Dad eventually moved back to Chicago, quit hockey, and started a business (unrelated to alcohol), but he never lost his love for making fruit brandy. Years later when he was launching European operations for his business, we moved to Germany as a family. That is when the whole family (I'm the youngest of 5 kids!) was introduced to making brandy. It became this hobby we all shared. When we moved back to Chicago, we continued to make brandy, mashing and distilling fruit in the backyard (my Dad tricked out an old stationary exercise bike in to a fruit chopping machine and us kids would take turns on it!). A lot of passion and love went in to making our backyard product, it was just a matter of time before someone in the family took it to the next level. That person, was me! I decided to take the leap of faith and make a business of it.





What's your favorite Rhine Hall brandy/cocktail and why? 
My favorite is our classic Rhine Hall Old Fashioned. It's not too sweet or too strong - just a spirit-forward cocktail that let's the Rhine Hall Apple Brandy shine through. All of our apples are sourced locally in the Mid West and that makes our Apple Brandy cocktails even more special.

Rhine Hall just celebrated it's one year anniversary. What's in store for the coming months/years? Yes! Phew! Multiple state distribution, new product releases, more parties. :)

What's your best piece of advice for others thinking of starting their own business?
Go for it! What do you have to loose? The happiness and motivation you get from running your own business on a daily basis outweighs any unknown if you don’t give it a shot. It is definitely a lot of hard work, time, and resilience but you can channel your energy and effort where YOU want to!




What do you love to do when you're not busy at the Distillery?
I like to go on walks with Atlas, check out beer gardens around the city, spend time in nature, and TRAVEL.

What is inspiring you right now?
Other butt-kicking women entrepreneurs! Also, visiting other cities to learn different ways of running successful small distilleries.

Has living in Chicago influenced any aspects of Rhine Hall?
Chicago has made Rhine Hall want to capitalize on the strong and rich cultural influences the city has. For example, it has been fun to reach out to as many Eastern Europeans as possible for our Plum Brandy aka Slivovitz. :) The physical location of Rhine Hall just seemed natural, all of our neighbors are entrepreneurs and manufacturing based. We love being in a neighborhood where things are constantly being made!




Thanks Jenny (and Atlas!) for giving us a tour of Rhine Hall's beautiful tasting room and distillery. Don't just look at our fancy photos, visit yourself and take a tour! Pop in on Thursdays (6:00 PM) or Saturdays (3:00 and 4:30 PM) to enjoy a drink and learn a little bit more about Rhine Hall. Maybe you'll even get a turn on the bike! Reservations are recommended.

Stay connected! Like Rhine Hall on Facebook and follow them on Instagram and Twitter.

3 comments:

  1. I need to check this place out!

    xo, Jessica || The Petite Diaries

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    Replies
    1. Definitely do Jessica! Take a tour (the distillery is beautiful) and sip on some delicious brandy.

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  2. I have to say I absolutely loved going to this place the other night. The people that work there were trying to create an optimal dinner experience while making your choices their priority. I would definitely recommend party venues Houston TX for any kind of fancy event.

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