Fascinating stories and speculation surround the history of mead. A common thread found throughout the stories is that mead, also known as honey wine, has been around for years, even dating back before the invention of writing.
Our first experience with mead was during the NC Wine Month Kickoff event when we tried both Honeygirl Meadery’s Hibiscus Lemonthyme and Starrlight Mead’s Traditional Semi-Sweet. Both were eye-opening and tasty. We knew we had to visit!
Our first meadery stop was with Honeygirl Meadery in Durham, NC. Honeygirl is comfortably situated in downtown Durham. It might sound odd to have this location in the middle of the hustle and bustle of urban life. My thought process moved from honey wine to honey to bees and flowers—there wasn’t the abundance of bees and flowers I was expecting, but the location actually works quite well. Saunter up to the tasting bar, have a glass of mead in the picnic area beside the meadery, or join an in-depth tour, and get ready to learn about all things mead.
Diane Currier, owner and mead maker, pours an abundance of love and passion into what she creates, and it shows. Not only does she strive to produce high-quality, craft meads, but she’s also a bee advocate and is more than happy to share her passion with guests.
A place for all things bees, honey, herbs, and flowers. We make handcrafted meads, which are wines made with honey using botanicals and flowers. For an experience of nature unlike any other.
Video from INDY Week, by Kathryn Rende
Diane started home brewing in early 1990 as a fun social outlet. She recalled visiting her sister in Homer, Alaska, taking in a field of pink with a beautiful blue sky. When she had that first taste at Ring of Fire Meadery, she was hooked. Now, Diane explores local fruits, flowers, and herbs to create beautiful bottles of nature. She explained, “I love clover honey. It’s so delicate. I’m looking for robust clover.” The flavor discoveries are never-ending.
Knowing that Diane gets a lot of her fruit, honey, and flowers from local farms is exciting and fun. Not only does that support local, but you get to experience what nature was like in a particular area for each vintage. The fruit meads are more seasonal, but it’s all about the honey…and wildflowers!
Apples found in the Spiced Apple Cyser are from Perry Lowe Orchard in Wilkesboro, NC. Diane has used a four apple blend of Fiji, Cameo, Pink Lady, and Gold Rush. With the late season press, apples tend to be sweeter.
Strawberries in Honeygirl meads come from McAdams Farms and Ogburn Berry Farm. The strawberry mead is a very aromatic dry mead with delicate, soft strawberry flavors. Two pounds of strawberry are in each gallon, which creates a bright and fresh sip.
Honeygirl has sponsored a beehive from Bee Downtown for three years, now, “because I believe in their mission to improve honeybee health and populations in urban areas.” Diane further explains, “Of the approximately 6,000 pounds of wildflower honey that we buy in a year, about half of it comes from NC, and the other half comes through certified true source honey suppliers.” She is thoughtful with where she purchases her honey. “Know your beekeeper. Know where you’re getting your honey from.”
Only one type of yeast is used in the fermentation process, which lends more fruit and flower in the aromatics and on the palate. The meads are completed in about four months to two years. The fermentation takes around a month for each, and then the meads are aged for three months for the fruit meads, or up to about a year or two for the traditional meads. With honey as its base, the mead has unlimited aging potential.
Diane explains that she wanted to, “put nature in a bottle in a different way.” She’s definitely achieved that goal.
If you’d like to know more about the art of mead and food pairing, check out the Blog on Honeygirl’s website. Also, be sure to mark your calendars for Mead Day—the first Saturday of August!
Until our next glass…
Go Local. Drink Carolinas. 🍷
We visited Honeygirl Meadery on our own and were not asked to write a review about our experience. The opinions we express in this post are entirely our own.