Ledgerock Distillery

Everything Jay Retzer has done has revolved around agriculture. “I love everything ag,” he said. He went to UW-River Falls and got an agronomy degree. He was an agronomist at the Co-op (Agri-land at the time) for 11 years. He currently has a full-time job as an Ag Lender with the Farm Credit Division at Compeer Financial. He runs Retzer Farm and he operates a distillery using his locally grown products. Everything revolves around ag!

Retzer Farm is a cash grain operation that Jay operates with his wife, Heidi. They grow corn, soybeans and wheat. Jay challenged himself to find greater value in their small farm. That is what led to the June opening of Ledgerock Distillery. They are still growing grain, but now some is transformed into vodka, gin, moonshine, and a bourbon that was crafted from their wheat. The distillery is located on their property on Grandview Road in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. They sell out of the location and do free tours Saturdays and Sundays with tastings for people who are interested in their products and show up to see how it is made. “Badger Liquor has picked us up,” Jay said, “so you can find our distillery products at Festival Foods. We can get our products into any store that is interested in picking us up through Badger Liquor.”

Jay grew up with his dad running the farm as a second occupation. He loved helping out and always wanted to be around the equipment and crops. “My dad was part-time and I would step up and do the work when he was not around,” Jay said. Farming is a part-time venture for Jay, too. Although, most days it seems full-time, he said he really enjoys the work that goes into growing crops and there is great satisfaction in combining. In 2004, they switched to 100% no till and were doing cover crops back in the early 2000s.

Jay and Heidi have three sons; Bryce, Hoyt, and Brock. Similar to Jay and his dad, the like father-like son inspiration has also carried on to the next generation of the Retzer family. Bryce is helping with the family’s new operation and is the head distiller at Ledgerock. Additionally, Jay and Bryce are both members of the Eden Volunteer Fire Department. Hoyt and Brock are still in school, but help out when they can on the farm. As far as any other hobbies, Jay said, “we’re making whiskey and with adding that to everything else we are doing… we have our plates full.”

Some people make lemonade from lemons and the Retzers make vodka from grain. It is all about taking what you have and adapting to find a greater value when needed. Thank you to Jay and his family for sharing their story for this week’s Farmer Friday message. It is fun to hear what innovations our members are coming up with in these challenging times. We wish you all the best for success!

#FarmerFriday ...post #92. To show our appreciation to our producer members Country Visions Cooperative will be giving a snapshot look of our customers and their operations in this feature each Friday