To produce excellent wines and spirits from local Maine agricultural products—and to have fun doing it!
The Start of Tree Spirits
Since graduating from Colby in 1976 Bruce Olson has been a building contractor, an energy educator, a raiser of sheep, was certified to install and clean boilers, owned a ballroom dance studio and has been making wine since 1997.
He won two medals for his apple wines in 2009 at an amateur competition hosted by the Cellardoor Winery. At about this time, he also started experimenting with distillation of his apple wine and moved on to distilling his maple wine. Because the distilled maple product is not made from fruit, the government required us to come up with a “fanciful” name. We chose Knotted Maple which the judges at the San Francisco Wold Spirits Competition liked enough to award it a Bronze medal.
In 2010, Bruce turned the barn he’d bought to store his 25′ trimaran into the winery and distillery. In June 2011 Tree Spirits Apple extra dry was awarded a Double Gold Medal and the Maple demi-sec was awarded a silver medal at the San Francisco International Wine Competition.
In April 2013, Tree Spirits Pear Brandy won a Double Gold at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition and in the fall of 2013, Tree Spirits Applejack won a Silver at the New York International Spirits Competition.
In 2014, after an 18 year courtship, Bruce and Karen Heck got married so Bruce could get health insurance and quit his other two jobs to work full time on the business! All his hard work paid off that year when the only New England produced Absinthe Verte won a Bronze medal and Tree Spirits was awarded a Maine Distiller of the Year award in 2014 at the NY International Spirits Competition.
In 2016 Down East Magazine named our Absinthe Verte Spirit of the Year, and the judges in San Francisco awarded it a Silver medal in 2018, along with a Bronze for our Limoncello. All of our spirits have now won awards on either or both coasts.
Tree Spirits’ offerings include apple, pear, and maple picnic and sparkling wines and brandies, a maple port called Maple Storm, two brandy-based drinks we call subLimes — Pear and Pom, Absinthe, and Limoncello.
We are located just minutes from Colby College and its amazing Museum of Art, the creative arts community of downtown Waterville, and we are easily accessed off I 95 exits 127 and 130. Come visit and see why judges from both coasts agree that our locally sourced and produced wines and spirits are winners!
Here’s a short story about Tree Spirits filmed by Colby College student, Will Kearney