It all started in the summer of 2005. Dan was encouraged by his Aunt Nancy to head to Denmark for 10 days with his 2 cousins to do some "on the ground research" regarding the family genealogy. He left Deb back in Massachusetts with infant twin girls just over a year old. He on vacation, Deb in baby work world. So, he, being the thoughtful husband, brought back for Deb a ceramic bottle of "Viking Mead." "Viking Mead??"  She scratched her head. Very romantic (??). Never heard of mead. He (being testosterone laden) thought it looked cool. Deb (being full of estrogen) thought it a waste of money (She would have loved a lovely old vine zin at that point being by herself with 2 "busy" babies to look after while he was gone "researching.") So, there it sat on the liquor shelf along with all the other half used weird booze one buys for a specific cocktail you only use once.

Fast forward several months...

"Hey, what is this?" as he dug deep into the pantry.  There is was, no worse for wear, a bit dust coated, but "well aged." We opened it, lacking that lovely old vine zin of which Deb spoke, and poured 2 glasses. We sniffed. We sipped. We were HOOKED. Mead was amazing! It was not the sweet syrupy drink we assumed it was! Delicious. "We can make this!" He said with a smirk. The rest, as they say, is history.

We had always been beer brewers - started that in grad school as a hobby and to save some money. But mead and wine was to follow. Dan tried his hand at all sorts of wine, some good, some okay, some, well, good for cooking. Mead creating soon followed the wine. Neighbors came to sample and give feedback. "This smells like dirty socks." "Wet sponges?" "Nice fruit overtones." These are some of the comments overheard on our deck among or many friends. Dan became the "mad scientist," keeping dutiful log notes about quantities , measurements, temperatures, and fermentation activity. Honey was ordered by the bucketful. Spice racks were gone over and perused and spices chosen. Kids were shooed out of the basement. We waited. We watched the bubbling. We waited some more.  And then we sipped. Pure bliss!  He did it!  The hard work had paid off!

So, now many years down the road, we are ready to share our passion for mead with others. We hope you will come and check us out, come tour the production room, partake in the tasting room, and hopefully support our honey nano-winery!

So, back a year ago, when we actually decided to DO THIS THING and start a small scale commercial meadery, we had no idea how this was about to change our lives. But as we roll nearer to our 50 days to opening countdown, we reflect on how far we have come (and how far we need to go!). Our desire to share our passion for mead has demanded that we become "Jacks of all Trades" and learn so many new things!

Opening a small business is a crazy choice, and now, looking back, I think for choice for slightly crazy people! SO much to know and learn and do. Especially in the alcohol realm, state and federal guidelines take 28 hours a day, a gallon of sweat and 3 pints of blood to understand and follow to complete and submit paperwork correctly (and, mark our words, either you or they will have missed something - despite your greatest efforts, and time will be added to the turn-around....).

Decisions about labels have to be made; overall design, manufactures, paper stock, and sheen choices. Choices of bottle volume and shapes, dip waxes, wall colors, cork types, shelving and lighting design, T-shirt selections, logo creation, distribution boxes, stamps, bags, and so much more....

I tip my hat to anyone who has had the brim and vigor and guts to follow a dream and do what they LOVE. And even more kudos if the business is still standing after a year!

SO, can we give you a glimpse of what this all means? I will try!

Mead Man Dan has become the meadery's full time CEO, CFO, COO, lead tasting room reconstruction manager, head fermentation chemist, taste tester, director of day to day operations, accountant and comptroller, a dang good graphic artist, editor, facilities manager, quality control boss, web site designer and manager... And he remains a really awesome dad to our wonderful girls.

Besides still holding full time jobs as mom and high school science teacher, I have become lead label writer, editor, public relations manager, head marketing agent, and design staff, director of networking, social media administrator, and interior design is now on the resume. I assist with day to day operations, am lead custodian and food shuttler (yah gotta eat sometime!)!

What does all this mean? It means we sure wish we had 30 hours in a day to get everything done. It means we arise at 4:00 am because we cannot sleep. We sleepily wander downstairs to make coffee and write the blog that caused us to not sleep in the first place. Or review the "to do" list that seems to keep growing despite our best efforts to get stuff done. But, neither one of us would trade it for the world. Dan is so happy, the happiest I have seen him in a long time, because he is doing what he LOVES. He works for his passion. And how many of us can say that? And it makes me smile.

Who would have thought that starting a Massachusetts Farm Winery would be so much work?!  What seemed like a simple dream nine months ago has turned into a true obsession!  It all started by driving by the space for rent at 3 Short Street here in historic Ipswich, MA.  I had been thinking of starting a meadery for several years, but was going to do so out of my garage.  We looked at the space, and had to make a quick decision - is this the spot for us?  Do we want to make "the jump"?  After several industry leaders recommended to us that we would benefit from having a tasting room, the decision was a resounding YES!  So, after months of work we are finally close to opening, and the original concept of the space has been realized!  Come visit in April and see the finished product... and have a taste or two!  And fall in love with mead!  We did!

 

 

We received the majority of wood for the tasting room from a collaspsed barn in Mexico, Maine.  A day trip to rescue the wood was required, and we came back with a load of beams, doors and siding (and hopefully no termites!)

For an average sized batch of 1634 Meadery mead, say 150 gallons, it takes 36 GALLONS or 430 lbs of honey! How many bees is that? Since each honey bee is capable making about 1.5 teaspoons of honey over the course of its lifetime, that would be 6,720 bees required to produce a gallon of honey! Times that by 36 and you get a whole lotta bees!

Back in 2006 bee keepers in the USA first began to report of what is now known as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). Whole hives where being wipes out. The cause, although researched heavily, has not yet been determined. Perhaps caused by increased exposure to insecticides and pesticides , invasive parasites, or bee specific virus or a combination of threats, the concern about populations of bees disappearing is alarming.

Read More: Bee Habitat Importance

After MONTHS of excruciatingly painful waiting, we were finally approved as a winery in November!  Whoo Hoo! This must be what it feels like to win the lottery! Let the  fermentation commence!