As the first licensed distillery in the state of Iowa since Prohibition, Cedar Ridge Vineyards, Winery & Distillery is at the forefront of bringing craft wine and liquor to residents in the Corridor. The family-owned winery, distillery and event space is nestled in the beautiful Iowa countryside and has been recognized nationally for its wines produced from its own estate-grown grapes. Cedar Ridge Distillery also crafts award-winning spirits in small batches in its three German-engineered pot stills.
We caught up with Jeff Quint, owner of Cedar Ridge, to learn more about this Corridor hotspot.
Tell us a little bit about how you started Cedar Ridge?
About 12 years ago, my wife and I saw what was happening with these new wine varieties that were being developed – such as French-American hybrids –and we could tell that this wasn’t a fad. And so we started to set up a winery. But as we were developing the plan, we were trying to figure out how we would differentiate ourselves, and we realized that we are located right in the center of corn country, and most distilled spirits are made from corn. But at that time, there weren’t any distilleries in the state of Iowa. We’re importing $300 million a year worth of spirits into a state that has more raw materials for those spirits than any other state in the country. That’s how we became the first legal craft distillery in Iowa since Prohibition.
How would you describe Cedar Ridge to someone who’s never visited?
Really what Cedar Ridge is about is adult relaxation and relationship building. When you come to Cedar Ridge, you have this setting that is a very comfortable, very relaxed atmosphere. You happen to have our wines and our wonderful menu and our spirits, and maybe you’ll catch a tour of our distilling, facilities while you’re here, but, it’s really about coming here with others and just having a great time.
What’s on the horizon at Cedar Ridge in the coming months?
I think you’re going to see our wines expanding a little bit in the future, but it’s our spirits that are going to expand significantly. Just in the last year we’ve added another building to our facilities that is just focused on increasing our whiskey production. So I would say three years from now you’re going to see a company that’s doing about twice the volume that we’re doing today. And the vast majority of that is going to be our Cedar Ridge Bourbon.
How has MidWestOne helped support your growth?
MidWestOne has been our partner since our very first expansion here in the Corridor. They were very innovative in the way we structured our initial deal. I did not have a lot of equity to bring to the table, but we found ways to provide the safety the bank needed and we got the SBA involved. Between us all we found a solution that a couple other banks really hadn’t been able to do. Since then, we’ve expanded several times. MidWestOne has been the bank that’s helped us do that every time.
I work with Chase Stafford and Charlie Funk and Kent Jehle and the group there, and at this point I can’t imagine that any other bank is going to be involved in Cedar Ridge going forward.