Distillery entrepreneur's mention on Forbes' list has a romantic twist

A local woman’s inclusion on Forbes’ coveted list of 30 entrepreneurs under 30 who will shape the beverage choices of Americans in 2018 brought her more than publicity. It most certainly speeded up a marriage proposal.

The magazine was looking beyond food fads like frozen yogurt and creative cupcakes to lasting trends backed by sound business planning.

Enter Laura Johnson, 26, whose You & Yours Distilling Co. opened last March at 1495 G St. in downtown San Diego. Her distillery started with two craft spirits, a Sunday Gin and a You & Yours Vodka — distinctive because they are distilled from grapes, rather than grains or potatoes. But, beyond that, her goal was to turn her distillery into a welcoming “destination” with a tasting room and event space accommodating pop-up dinners and food truck visits.

Johnson had tapped into her passion while on vacation in Havana, Cuba, when, on a whim, she visited a distillery. At the time, she was a University of San Diego economics student.

In addition to her courses, she pursued a sommelier program and began educating herself in the hospitality and spirits industry while working at The Flight Path in San Diego’s Little Italy. After graduating from USD in 2014, she enrolled in distillery school in Washington state then took a master distiller’s program in Kentucky.

She says the biggest change in her life since Forbes’ recognition was that her business partner, Luke Mahoney, asked her to marry him. With all that publicity, “he had to lock it down,” she jokes. The couple is working on expanding their spirit line.

Read Diane Bell's full column here.

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