Actor Jeremy Renner announces ownership in Sweet Grass Vodka
By Jenny Peterson
Two-time Academy Award nominee actor Jeremy Renner had a life-changing year in 2023. On New Year’s Day, his legs were crushed in an accident involving a snowplow that broke over 30 bones. He spent a long road to recovery in the hospital and doing physical therapy and recovered with a new lease on life and how he wants to live it.
It was that experience that helped solidify a decision to stake part ownership in Sweet Grass Vodka, a Lowcountry-owned and operated distillery.
Renner announced his partnership in July 2023 and hosted a press conference and large block-party type event at the Sweet Grass Vodka Lounge inside The Refinery at 1640 Meeting Street on October 20, 2023 where the public was able to purchase tickets and meet with the Avengers star and take photo-ops.
It was Renner’s first time visiting the Lowcountry and he said it won’t be his last.
“I like that community feeling and it's just big enough to be interesting and small enough to where there's a great community and I like that,” he said.
Renner spoke to members of the media about his journey in taking part ownership in the Lowcountry’s flourishing premium spirit, comparing the experience to finding the perfect fit akin to online dating.
Like other celebrities, Renner had been looking to diversify and expand his footprint into the spirits industry. Through an agent, he had done a number of zoom calls with other spirit producers to learn about not just the product, but the company’s culture and history, major factors in deciding which brand to invest in this new venture.
Renner said at the press conference that following the accident, those aspects of the business became more important than ever. He said zoom calls to meet Jarrod Swanger, founder and CEO of Sweet Grass Vodka, and hearing how the brand invests in the local community helped him decide that the Lowcountry brand was the right fit, saying their visions aligned.
"We were already working together before the accident, but I feel like my time is a little bit more valuable now after my accident. I was very clear about how I wanted to spend my time and who I wanted to spend my time with,” Renner said. “The vision is not just spirits. It's shared experiences with that spirit and making connections with people.”
The brand’s success starts on the field, where hardworking families grow the potatoes that eventually become Sweet Grass Vodka.
Renner noted that while the brand is gaining more attention and national distribution, Sweet Grass Vodka plans to stay family-run in the Lowcountry using local workforce at its bottling facility in downtown Charleston. A unique feature of Sweet Grass Vodka is that each bottle contains an actual piece of the Lowcountry—a blade of sweetgrass in every bottle.
Swanger said the company purchases sweetgrass from local vendors at the historic Charleston City Market.
Renner said his job is to grow the brand nationally, including expanding the market to Reno, Nevada where he lives, putting Sweet Grass Vodka inside casinos.
For now, he’s just blessed to be a part of the brand and learn about the distilling process. “I'm really excited to be here. We want to test some stuff like chili peppers and cucumbers in the distilling process,” Renner said. “Our vision is not just spirits. It's shared experiences and a spirit of making connections with people. We wanted to put something out with quality at a great price point where everybody can enjoy it. This to me feels like family.”
Several times, Renner touched upon his near-death experience and how it will forever guide him in how he wants to spend his time and energy moving forward.
“There are a lot of gifts to receive when you're tested physically, emotionally, spiritually and in every way and then to come through it. Anybody who has been tested knows…it's hard to explain, but it's good. You sit through the pain and feel very blessed and very lucky to be upright and walking around and you want to live a very clear life. I really want to stay here (on Earth) as long as I possibly can and I'm so excited about the future.”
The Sweet Grass Vodka lounge is located at 1640 Meeting Street Rd., open Wednesday-Saturday from 4 -11 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. To learn more, visit www.sweetgrassvodka.com