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Valentine Vodka adds 4 jobs, preps to expand in U.S., Canada

Rifino Valentine has turned his fondness for craft alcohol into a fast-growth business in Ferndale, Valentine Vodka.

The 3-year-old craft distillery has watched its revenue spike 65 percent over the last year and is on track to hit 130 percent growth in 2011. That expansion has allowed Valentine Vodka to add four jobs over the last year, rounding out its staff to six people and a summer intern. It now has its sights set on expansion outside of Michigan, and even the U.S., this year.

"We're looking to grow this thing big," says Valentine, president & founder of Valentine Distillery Co., which manufactures Valentine Vodka.

Valentine became interested in craft distilling while going through what he calls "a dirty martini kick," noticing all of the high-end vodka was foreign-made. He decided to do something about it by creating a local high-end vodka that is almost entirely made in Michigan. The labels are made in Grand Rapids, boxes are from Detroit, and printing from Ferndale.

"Everything except the glass bottle," Valentine says. "I'm switching right now. I was getting my glass from Europe and I am switching to a company from Missouri."

Valentine figures that if 10 percent of the vodka sold in Michigan were local, it would mean $100 million stays in-state. He thinks that's possible with the growing popularity of craft beer, mead, and liquor in the state. Plus, he's looking at moving into the Illinois, Tennessee, and Ontario markets this year.

"My mission is Michigan is to never have another bottle of Grey Goose sold," Valentine says.

Source: Rifino Valentine, president & founder of Valentine Distillery Co. and Valentine Vodka
Writer: Jon Zemke
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