Our Journey to Handcrafted Rose Water

Grace Rose Farm

November 16, 2020

When we first started our farm, I vividly recall Gracie saying that she wanted to bottle the scent of our roses. I couldn’t blame her as each of the varieties we grow produces their own intoxicating scent. While I didn’t know how to bottle their unique scents, I was definitely intrigued by the idea. Being new to true garden roses, I had never experienced a scent as wildly aromatic and beautiful as being up close with the 500 roses we had just planted in our backyard. 

As our business grew that first year, the idea of bottling the scent was only a daydream, something we talked about as a future project. We were too busy focused on growing our business. During our second year, I started researching different methods on how to create rose water, also known as hydrosol. I read articles and watched as many videos online as I possibly could. Ultimately I realized that the time-honored tradition of creating rose hydrosol through steam distillation would be our answer.

Before I set out to purchase a still, I took note of the many different varieties we had and the distinctive scent each rose produced. Not only that but how the scent would change depending on the time of day. I would write down the qualities of each scent and mark what I liked about them, making notes about which varieties I felt would make the best rose hydrosol. I also discovered the optimal time of day to harvest the petals, when they were at their most fragrant for the hydrosol. 

Each variety has its own unique scent and when distilled alone it creates a beautiful product. Although, when all the specially selected petals are mixed together and distilled in one tank, the resulting hydrosol reminds me of the intoxicating aroma as I walk the fields after the morning fog has lifted and the sun is radiating on the rose bushes.

We briefly considered shipping our petals somewhere to be processed and distilled, but in keeping with the tradition of harvesting and freshly shipping our roses, we preferred the rose petals stayed on our farm for distillation. We wanted to provide a true farm-to-fragrance product. 

Gracie and I have always learned through trial and error - when it came to growing large quantities of roses using sustainable methods, and again when producing rose water that matched our vision. Three years ago I purchased my first still and started the journey of creating rose water directly from our fields. It was such an amazing feeling to go out in the morning to harvest roses, process the petals, put them into the still, and see and smell the first drop of hydrosol. Honestly, science was not my forte in school, but for some reason I became obsessed with the technique, discipline, numbers, and patience required in the distillation process. There were many batches that didn’t produce a scent we desired and as you can imagine, having to stop a distillation run and waste several pounds of petals, can be disheartening. That first year of distilling caused some frustration and there were times we considered giving up. However, once I narrowed down the petal recipe, I began to produce a quality of hydrosol that matched the quality we so desired. It was that breakthrough moment that gave us the confidence to create Garden of Grace, our new beauty line. It also gave me the confidence to upgrade my 10 gallon still to the 70 gallon stills we purchased earlier this year. 

 

The amount of petals we use for each run is staggering, which you can imagine also requires much labor. We have three men working full-time to harvest the roses and process them for the still. At our scale of daily distilling, it’s not something I am able to do on my own anymore and I appreciate the detailed work these men do. They have learned which roses to pick and what stage of the blooming is best for our production. They have become masters at selection and a valuable part of our team.

During the distillation process, rose oil is produced at the same time as the rose water. While we could extract the oil from the hydrosol, Gracie and I wanted to keep all those beneficial virtues of our roses in the product. We know what an asset our essential oil brings to the Garden of Grace fragrance and beauty products.

I am so fortunate that I get to stop and smell the roses on a daily basis. It’s truly amazing to go from one rose to another and pick up on the subtle differences between each rose's scent. It’s little things like this that bring me so much joy each day. While I’m making the rose water, Gracie has been working with our research and development team on many new products that we’ll be releasing throughout 2021. From the beginning of our business, we’ve been a husband and wife team and it’s exciting to continue in partnership as we develop this collection. Gracie and I are so excited to be able to use our roses in this way and even more excited to share it with you all. We hope you enjoy our rose water and the products we create using it. Thank you so much for your support, we appreciate each and every single one of you!  ~ Ryan

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