Products: Wines and Meads
Kurt Garretson returned from Japan and the Peace Corps in Niger, West Africa, to his family’s farm near Salem, Iowa, to make “the world’s oldest alcoholic drink known to man,” on Iowa’s oldest farm. Founded in 1837 by his great-great-great grandparents, active abolitionists Joel and Elizabeth Garretson (slave owners had a $500 reward out for Joel’s head!), East Grove Farms is the oldest continuously settled family farm in Iowa.
Interested in sustainable agriculture and non-traditional crops, and with his brother Justin’s long-term home brewing hobby, the two brothers and their father Joel founded a winery and meadery. Mead is an alcoholic beverage created by fermenting honey with water, sometimes with fruits, spices, grains, or hops. “If you try one mead, it’s unlikely that the next one will taste anything like it. They take on the character of whatever you add, and honey flavors depend greatly on what the bees are feeding off.”
Drink extra local & earth-friendly: Their all-Iowa brews are with honey from Perry, Iowa, and fruit they grow and pick locally themselves. “We use a lot of organic practices and avoid pesticides as much as possible, using cover crops and other practices to improve soil health.” Kurt’s favorites? “Our ‘New Tradition’ sparkling mead, very strong and semi-sweet, and our ‘White Pyment,’ a drier style mead of 50/50 grapes and honey, offering acidity and aged with burr oak from our farm.”