Jeff Quint believes that making fine wine and whiskeys is something he was born to do. After all, it’s in his DNA.
“I can trace it all the way back to my great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather, Johan Quint, who was in the trade in Germany,” the Iowa native said.
That family heritage helped inspire Quint and his wife, Laurie, to open Cedar Ridge Winery in 2005 on a picturesque property in Swisher, Iowa, about halfway between Cedar Rapids and Iowa City. A few years later, the Quints added a distillery to take advantage of an abundant resource in their home state and whiskey’s main ingredient – corn. Cedar Ridge has since grown to a 15,000-square-foot facility which features a tasting room and event space.
“We get 100,000 visitors a year,” he said. “It’s a great place for adult relaxation and relationship-building. We’re surrounded by 10 acres of vineyards and we have the grain mill running in the background. People love it.”
In the 14 years since opening, Quint said he’s learned a lot as a master distiller and winemaker, claiming to have “made every mistake at least once” along the way. All those mistakes, however, led him to refine the process and produce a lineup of wines and whiskeys that are recognized throughout Iowa, across the country and even around the world.
Need proof? The American Distilling Institute named Cedar Ridge its 2017 Distillery of the Year.
Iowa Bourbon Whiskey is the star of the show at Cedar Ridge. In fact, Quint sells it in 25 states and throughout Europe. Quint describes the bourbon as “drinkable,” meaning it goes down easier than most bourbons on the market.
“Our bourbon is approachable and easy sipping,” said Quint. “It comes across a little sweeter than other bourbons.”
To complement the whiskey and wine varieties produced on site, Cedar Ridge offers a range of food choices, including wood-fired pizzas and Iowa-sourced meats and cheeses.
On Friday nights and Sundays, the winery also presents live music with no cover charge. Cedar Ridge offers distillery tours on Saturdays and Sundays from 1-3 p.m., with no appointment needed.