Ida Graves’ distiller in Alexandria finds a way to get rid of his creative itch
Berglund grew up on a 10-acre hobby farm just south of Alexandria towards Forada, where he and his seven siblings had free access to the land. Berglund describes a horse pasture on the property often used by neighbors to store their horses. But back in the days when the pasture was empty, it was a tool for their creativity. It has regularly transformed from a horse pasture to a paintball course or the location of a homemade trebuchet used to throw pumpkins and rocks through pastures.
“It was a lot of fun. We had a lot of freedom,” said Berglund. “It was a free lifestyle, as it sounds like these days – a pretty heckled childhood, pretty fun.
He said his parents gave them a lot of confidence and freedom and encouraged him and his siblings to be who they wanted to be, to explore, to develop and to discover themselves.
Berglund describes his parents as exceptionally hardworking and generous people, often involved in the community.
“If I have a sense of the work ethic, I got it from them,” he says.
After high school, Berglund earned a degree in English and a minor in physics before earning a law degree from the University of Minnesota. He started working as a public defender in Minneapolis, which he describes as brutal work. He eventually started working as a lawyer for nonprofits, but deep inside he still had that creative itch that was waiting to be scratched.
“Life takes you in different directions,” Berglund said.
In 2016, a six-month period of unemployment forced him to get serious. Berglund said he wanted to completely change the direction he was going.
“During this unemployment I was really trying to figure out what I wanted to do with a living,” Berglund said. “I tried woodworking, sold several pieces, but it just didn’t suit me. I was really trying to find my way.
As an amateur hobbyist, distillation was an idea that kept coming back to him.
“This is one of those companies where you are still learning, and that’s what I really liked about it,” he said.
With a stroke of luck, Berglund’s in-laws offered him land in Alexandria which they used as Airbnb to live and start his distillery, which he happily accepted. He was then able to land a job as a lawyer for Thompson Reuters. The new job and the move took Berglund from Minneapolis to Alexandria.
The property spans 77 acres near the shores of Lake Ida, bordering the Lake Ida cemetery, inspiring the name of the new distillery, Ida Graves.
Berglund says distillation is the creative process that really itches the itch.
Today, Berglund is still a lawyer by day and a distiller by night while balancing his life as a husband and father of two – a responsibility he doesn’t mind as the company allows him to be close to his family.
He intends to continue expanding his distillery, adding a cocktail room and patio, as well as expanding his list of organic, homemade spirits made from local ingredients.
“Always be curious, always learn and always know that you don’t know anything,” Berglund said. “Hard lessons are learned before you find yourself in a situation thinking you know everything.”