The Story of

Domaine Charbay

Generations of History

For the owners of Domaine Charbay, Miles (12th Generation) and Susan Karakasevic, family is everything. When your family’s history of winemaking and distilling runs many generations long, it comes naturally. As the new chapter for Domaine Charbay unfolds, the values of patience, creativity, tradition that have guided this generational family-owned business in the past, keep them moving towards the future.

The Family’s Story of Winemaking and Distilling Began in 1751

European Roots: The winemaking and distilling history of the Karakasevic family starts in Europe and dates back to 1751.

American Pioneers: The modern chapter of the Karakasevic distilling history is the story of Miles and Susan Karakasevic.

In 1962, at the age of 21, Miles immigrated to America, from former Yugoslavia, to pursue his dream to carry on the family’s history of distilling and winemaking in a new country. Born around pot stills, barrels and wine presses, he learned intuitive skills from a very young age. This practical experience was fined tuned by earning a degree in Enology and Viticulture from the University of Belgrade. Once in the US, he sought out jobs in the wine industry, moving to Napa Valley to work at Beringer as winemaster in 1972. While working in the Napa Valley, his desire to establish his own winery and distillery gathered strength. In 1983 the dream became reality, with the opening of Domaine Karakash, an artisanal winery and distillery in Ukiah, Northern California.

Ten years later, in 1993, Miles established the winery in St. Helena, in the Napa Valley, under the name, Domaine Charbay.

“When I was a boy, I remember people coming to our vineyard in Yugoslavia to buy our wine and brandy, filling their bottles directly from our barrels.” – Miles

While Miles was focused on crafting exceptional products, Susan, his wife and business partner, worked tirelessly on sales and marketing. Together they are responsible for the praise and well-deserved respect Domaine Charbay has garnered over the decades, for producing the finest collection of California Ports, California Brandy’s and Napa Valley Wines.

“I’ve been around it since I was 10. It’s part of the family.” – Marko (referring to the family’s Charentais Alambic Pot Still)

The Family Legacy Lives on with Marko Karakasevic

Meet Marko Karakasevic, Master Distiller and Generation 13 of Domaine Charbay Winery & Distillery. Born into a family with a rich tradition of winemaking and distillation, Marko has set out to create his own path, where traditional craftsmanship meets innovation. Always in search of unique, authentic flavor, Marko is forever pushing the boundaries of possibility. Patience in the process delivers the fine quality, creativity in the approach delivers the distinctiveness you can taste and feel.

Bringing Distilling to Winemaking is the Difference

As masters of distilling and winemaking we intentionally focus on our strengths, leaving grape growing to the professionals. Living in the Napa Valley, we’re fortunate to be surrounded by amazing grape growers and we’ve built partnerships with the best over the decades. We value their expertise, paying top price for the small amounts of the finest fruit we need each year.

It gives us the freedom to pick and choose, based on the quality of the vintage. And more time to concentrate on what we do best – combining the art of winemaking and distilling.

Why does this make a difference to you, the drinker?

We fortify our Port with barrel-aged Brandy and you can taste the difference. This expensive step in the process adds an extra dimension of flavor and richness, taking our Port to the highest level of quality.

As Jenni Karakasevic likes to explain – “We craft delicious. To achieve this, we build each of our ports, brandy’s and wines layer by layer, slowly. This is how we create this unforgettable flavor that is the heart and soul of the Charbay Collection.”

Brandy No. 83 is as close to a Cognac you can get, made in California. Distilled from 100% Folle Blanche, in the same Alambic Charentais pot still used by the Cognac houses, aged in French oak for decades, just like a premium Cognac.

Brandy No. 89 is a blend of two different varietals – Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc. Usually Brandy is bottled at 80 proof (40% ABV) but not ours. Our Brandy No. 89 was bottled at 92 proof (46% ABV). Why? Marko wanted you to taste it the way he loves it. If you prefer it on the lighter side, adjust it to your liking, with the desired amount of ice and/or water.

We’ve earned respect amongst our peers for going the extra mile. We don’t cut corners, preferring to work hard and show patience in crafting all of our artisanal products. It’s the only way we know how and it’s what makes our products distinct and delicious. Our approach to winemaking is no different.

The 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, an elegant, balanced and softly full flavored red, is sourced from the famed Stags Leap District AVA, Napa Valley.

For more information about our artisanal Ports, Brandy’s and Wines, click to our Collection page.

marko karakasevic, owner of domaine charbay winery
the stills in the tasting room at the domaine charbay winery
marko karakasevic, owner of domaine charbay winery
the stills in the tasting room at the domaine charbay winery