Jon Bon Jovi wasn’t singing about “bitter wine” when the rock star stopped by Cedar Ridge Vineyards, Winery & Distillery in Swisher for lunch, a tasting and tour April 15.
He was actually was more interested in the facility’s vodka, Cedar Ridge General Manager Jamie Siefken said.
“He was pretty excited about the part that our Clearheart Vodka was the first legal distilled spirit in Iowa since Prohibition,” Siefken said. “In 2005 ... that was the very first product we made, and that was before anyone else in the state was making products — before Templeton had their license. He was pretty excited to hear that kind of back story and the history about that.
“His drink of choice is vodka. He definitely enjoyed it — he bought a bottle, so he must have liked it.”
Siefken said the New Jersey native was just passing through Iowa, had heard about Cedar Ridge from a friend, and called asking if he and his group could swing by.
Among the entourage was Illinois native Irving Azoff, a promoter, producer, manager and former Ticketmaster CEO who topped Billboard’s 2012 Power 100 list.
Siefken said Bon Jovi, 53, also was intrigued by the local business angle of the Cedar Ridge facility at 1441 Marak Rd., just off I-380.
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“He definitely seems like an individual that cares a lot about American-made, handcrafted, creating-jobs type of industry or profession,” Siefken said. “I think he was pretty impressed that sitting right here in the Corridor, we started as a small operation and we’ve gotten to a decent enough size to create 30-plus jobs for local business.
“It was a pretty cool afternoon,” he added. “It’s definitely a compliment for people of that stature to come by, check out and see what we’re up to.”
Siefken described the megastar, whose hits include “You Give Love a Bad Name” and “Livin’ on a Prayer,” as “very humble, very down to earth, very genuine and a nice person.”
“I could tell he had good values and is a good person,” Siefken said. “He wasn’t a celebrity who was hard to deal with. It was a real pleasure to have both of them here.”
Even though the group dined in a private spot, Bon Jovi did sign proprietor Jeff and Laurie Quint’s daughter’s guitar, posed for a group photo, and bought whiskey and a hat, too.
“We were trying to keep it more professional and not act like we’ve never seen a celebrity before,” Siefken said.