Summer in a Bottle

Sonoma's new limoncello

Olive oil, wine, farmstead cheese: The Bay Area's edible landscape has resembled Italy's for years. With the arrival of Hello Cello, it does so even more.

The brainchild of Fred and Amy Groth, this new Sonoma-bottled limoncello surges with the invigorating essence of lemons.

The pair worked with the citrus lab at UC Riverside to ascertain the perfect mix of lemons for Hello Cello. The result features the Eureka variety and the classic limoncello lemon, Sorrento, sourced predominantly from an organic farm near Santa Cruz.

To create their sunny liqueur, the Groths start with brandy made from biodynamically grown local wine grapes. Next, they peel the lemons by hand (up to 3,000 for each batch of limoncello), macerate the rinds in the brandy for two weeks, then sweeten the brew with agave nectar.

Limoncello is traditionally drunk straight from the freezer at the end of a meal, but it's equally refreshing as an aperitif, served on the rocks with a hit of soda water and perhaps some muddled berries.

Until recently, Hello Cello was available only at a few restaurants in Sonoma County. Now, for your concentrated-citrus pleasure, it can be purchased at San Francisco retail shops like K&L Wine Merchants and Cask.

Summer has arrived early.