DRIPPING SPRINGS, Texas -- A small Central Texas city has become one of the most heavily concentrated centers for alcohol-related businesses in the state. Dripping Springs is home to several breweries, distilleries and wineries -- many of which have come to the area in the past decade.
"Dripping Springs has really exploded," said Melissa Wagner, public relations manager with San Luis Spirits.
The company was the first distillery in Dripping Springs, and is best known for Dripping Springs Vodka that's distributed in several states throughout the country. The family-owned business is specifically focused on Dripping Springs.
"The limestone around this area really gives the artisan spring water that we use a unique profile that our drinkers love," Wagner said.
In total, they have about 20 employees working in their distillery, plus a small sales team.
Down the road from San Luis Spirits is Swift Distillery.
"We love it. Everybody's been really friendly to us. It's nice to have a small town vibe while being close to a big city," Amanda Swift said.
Amanda and her husband Nick run and operate Swift Distillery where they produce single-malt whiskey.
"The Go Texan [Department of Agriculture] was really supportive, and got behind our brand. They helped us find the grant to get us going when we were starting, because we didn't have any investors, and did it all on our own. So that was really welcome to get us going there after so many years," Nick said.
Over the past 10 months, Swift Distillery has steadily grown, and has plans to add more machinery and eventually double their production.
Sherrie Parks, executive director of the Dripping Springs Chamber of Commerce, said locally owned breweries, distilleries and wineries enjoy a positive relationship with other locally owned businesses.
"It builds their business. As they [continue] to be part of the community, people get to know them and just embrace them being here," Parks said, adding that in general, the city does not offer tax breaks or incentives to businesses.
Another factor behind the growing interest is Dripping Springs' proximity to Austin.
"People can easily get to us, have a good time, get home, and they haven't wasted a whole weekend. They've spent a day, they've relaxed, and they can take care of what they need to take care of," Parks said.
And like the industry, Dripping Springs' domain has grown. When you factor in the extra territorial jurisdiction, the population balloons to nearly 40,000. A guide handed out by the Chamber of Commerce notes at least 20 breweries, distilleries and wineries in the greater Dripping Springs area.
Michael Dymowski is the head brewer at Twisted X Brewery and grew up in the area.
"I was tuned into the beer business pretty early, and it was nothing like it is now," he said.
Twisted X has been open in Dripping Springs for about two years.
"I think what attracted the owners to Dripping Springs is the views, the community, and I know that they always had a kindred spirit for this area. Also the Chamber of Commerce helped us out," Dymowski said.
The growth of the industry can be seen in the number of companies, and in the companies themselves. Twisted X started out of a garage four years ago, and since then has brewed 50,000 barrels of beer. Their goal for next year: another 50,000 barrels. Dymowski added the original facility was built with expansion in mind. Eventually, they plan on moving the packaging to a separate facility as the company continues to grow.
"When we started, our weekends were busy, but weekdays were slow. And now, most days we have a healthy vibrant community here," said Dymowski.
Parks added that another distillery is set to open in the next couple of weeks, and more distilleries have already reached out to express interest in opening.