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Making the sweet from the sour

Kirkwood instructor cultivates unique hobby, enjoys sustainable living

By Natalie Kanakares
On November 7, 2012

  • Denise Glew
  • Glew makes a variety of flavors of homemade wine. Pictured above are six-gallon carboys of wine in process. Photo Contributed
  • To make dandelion wine the yellow part has to be separated from the green stem. According to Denise Glew, instructor at Kirkwood Community College, this process is very labor intensive. Photo Contributed

Some say, "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade." Denise Glew takes dandelions and makes wine.

Glew, an instructor at Kirkwood Community College, teaches Human Anatomy, Human Physiology and Environmental Science.

Glew is an alumnus of Wartburg College in Waverly where she earned her bachelor's degree. Glew then graduated from the University of Northern Iowa with a master's degree in Exercise Science.

 Outside of teaching, Glew and her husband share the hobby of making different kinds of wine, including dandelion wine.

"We try to live close to the land by growing our own vegetables and being self-sustainable. It's a healthier way to live, easier on the environment and also cheaper." Glew said.

Glew grows or locally sources all the produce used to make her fruit wines.  Her sour cherry wine is made from her neighbor's sour cherry tree and the dandelions are picked from the Country Road Maintenance Shop yard next to her house.

Glew and her husband have a wide variety of other fruit and vegetable-based wines, such as rhubarb, strawberry, chokecherry, sour cherry, apple, watermelon and corn wine. They have also explored combination wines such as raspberry rhubarb.

The homemade wine-making process is not easy or fast, especially for the Glews because they grow their own produce. The process to make, bottle and age a single bottle of wine can take over a year. The wine spends six to eight months being brewed and aged before bottling and another six to eight months aging in the bottle. 

Glew said it costs about $25 per bottle of wine but they are unable to sell it due to liquor license laws.  Instead of selling their wine, they give it to friends and family as Christmas gifts.

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