Ayele Solomon is no stranger to mead. As a native of Ethiopia, where traditional honey wine called t’ej is ubiquitous. Anybody with the means to make it would ferment the traditional beverage, especially around holidays and special occasions such as births and weddings. Solomon has more recently authored a book on mead appreciation called The Celebrated Story of Honey Wine.
In 2009 on a trip through southwestern Ethiopia’s Kafa forest, Solomon realized that replacing traditional tree-hanging beehives with modern frame hives could solve multiple economic, environmental, and social issues in the region. The modern hives can produce over five times that of traditional hives, and are a much safer and gender neutral beekeeping solution. This has the potential for more household income and quell the drive toward deforestation. So began the mission of The Honey Wine Company.
In 2010 Solomon joined forces with renowned winemaker Wayne Donaldson to make a honey wine that will not only be enjoyed by regular mead drinkers but also appeal to seasoned grape wine drinkers. Donaldson explains their quest for a smooth, drinkable honey wine, “We set out to make a wine with the floral and fragrant qualities of honey while also possessing the balance and complexity of grape wine.” Their Bee d’Vine mead launched this year after several years of trials and tests of different fermentation techniques.
Bee D’Vine is a traditional mead made with only water, honey, and yeast. It comes in two styles – Brut and Demi Sec. The Brut is a crisp, dry mead while the Demi Sec is semi-sweet. The proceeds of Bee D’Vine support the broader mission of the company. Sales of the wine will fund the conversion of the traditional Ethiopian beehives to more modern ones.
The Honey Wine Company is initially using local northern California honey, but once the new hives are established in Ethiopia they would like to start purchasing the honey from those farmers. This will bring the mission full circle and have an even broader economic, environmental and social impact.
So cheers to Ayele Solomon, Wayne Donaldson and the Honey Wine Company for expanding the mead industry while improving the world around us.
You can do your part and purchase Bee D’Vine from their site. Meadist readers get a 20% discount with the promo code “mead.”
If you order over $85 of mead, you also get a free hardcopy of their book on mead appreciation, The Celebrated Story of Honey Wine.