Tasting Sparkling Honey Wine at Heidrun Meadery, Point Reyes, California

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Visiting Heidrun Winery

(Contributed by Erica Schreckenghaust) On a beautiful sunny day a small group of Wine Sense Members visited Heidrun Meadery in Point Reyes. We were on a quest to taste “the wine of the Norse gods” – wine made from honey. Mead was the only beverage that the Norwegian god Odin would drink, and it had to be from Heidrun, a special goat that would produce mead in her udder.

About Heidrun Meadery

Heidrun Meadery is one of the few, if not the only, meaderies, who make their mead in the Methode Champenoise style, which creates a champagne style mead. Heidrun Meadery was first founded by Gordon Hull in 1997 in Arcata, CA. Over the years the popularity of their mead increased steadily and soon reached their production capacity, so they 2011 they relocated to their current property, a 16­acre farm in Point Reyes, only a mile from the Pacific Ocean.

How to Make Sparkling Honey

The Heidrun Team consists of five people who do everything from taking care of the bees and landscaping the property with native flowers, to hand disgorging and bottling the mead. In the production facility there are large vats of honey stored in steel drums, the size of oil drums.  These contain honey made on­site, as well as honey they buy from around the world. The flavor of the wine depends on the type of flowers the bees feed on.

The Production Process

The Production Process

The first step is to melt the honey in order to begin the fermentation process. They take a large tool that looks similar to a banana masher and place it on top of the large vat of honey. Over the next three days the tool will sink down to the bottom, heating the honey along the way. The liquefied honey is then placed into stainless tanks with 4 parts water, yeast, and yeast food so that it can ferment and create mead. Then the mead is boiled to remove any wax elements.

Next the mead is transferred to sparkling wine bottles and more yeast and sugar is added so the wine can go through secondary fermentation in bottle. The bottles are placed in large crates for aging, and after 4 months the crate is rotated on a gyro-palate so the yeast falls to the top of the bottle. Then the bottle top is frozen and the team disgorges the mead by hand and recorks it. No dosage is added. A label is applied and the mead is allowed to rest for a few more weeks before it is ready to be sold in the tasting room or to local restaurants and grocery stores.

The Honey Bee Garden and Hives

The Bee Hives & Garden

The Bee Hives & Garden

We then visited the true stars of the whole operation, the honey bees. Towards the back of the property there are hives that contain thousands of bees entering and exiting all day long. The bees can travel as far as five miles a day to find nectar and always return to their queen in the same exact hive. There is also a beautiful garden with various flowers to attract the bees.

Tasting the Sparkling Honey Wine of Heidrun

After seeing the incredible partnership between the Heidrun Team and honey bees, we were excited to try the final product. We headed into the tasting room to try five of their most popular meads: Hawaiian Lehua Blossom, Oregon Radish Blossom, Hawaiian Macadamia Nut, California Orange Blossom, and Alfalfa & Clover Blossom. We were also allowed to taste jars of honey made from each of these ingredients as well.

IMG_1631The sparkling meads were surprisingly dry and refreshing, considering they had such sweetly beautiful aromatics. There were no clear favorites among our group, as everyone liked different wines, but the two that stood out the most were the Oregon Radish Mead and the Alfalfa & Clover Mead. We had a fantastic afternoon in Point Reyes and cannot thank the Heidrun Meadery Team for taking the time to show us around!

The Innovative Wines of Delicato Family Vineyards

Liz Rice of Delicato

Liz Rice of Delicato

The Wine Sense Club had the honor of welcoming back Elizabeth Rice, an SSU alum and one of the founding members of the club, from Delicato Family Vineyards. She has worked at Delicato as their Director of International Marketing and Operations for the last 13 years. She has had the opportunity to travel all over the world representing the various brands under the Delicato portfolio.

Delicato Family Vineyards – 3rd Generation Family Growers in California

Delicato Family Vineyards is a 3rd generation family owned business with over 90 years of grape growing in California. They have a total of 3 wineries and 10 winemakers to create their amazing variety of wines. They are currently in over 70 international markets and have over 4,200 acres of grapes in Napa, Monterey and Lodi. They also proudly display their awards for Winery of the Year in 2011 and 2014.

The Innovative Wines of Delicato

Elizabeth brought 6 different wines from different branches of the Delicato brand, including a few that are only available internationally.

2012 LOFT Sauvignon Blanc: The first is a Sauvignon Blanc premium boxed wine called LOFT. Many people are often turned off by boxed wine, but Delicato is attempting to change this stigma. This wine is a premium wine retailing for about $30 and is for the savvy consumer, as it will stay good for up to three months after opening and even has the appellation on the box itself.

2014 Clay Station Viognier: Next we had a 2014 Viognier from the Clay Station Vineyard in Lodi. This vineyard is made up of 1,300 acres, situated on the slopes 200 feet above the valley.

10169247_10153216514063540_7002120323978289103_n2013 Gnarly Head Petite Syrah: We had a 2013 Gnarly Head Petite Syrah, which is currently only available for purchase in Europe. It’s a wine filled with hints of blackberry, chocolate and coffee beans.

2012 Brazin Old Vine Zinfandel: The Brazin Zinfandel is big and bold, offering flavors of black fruit and mocha and hints of vanilla. It is grown in Lodi and has won many awards such as a Silver Medal in the 2015 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.

2010 Black Stallion Estate Winery Barrel Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon: This Cabernet Sauvignon is a limited production wine (24 barrels total) to celebrate the Year of the Horse grown in Napa Valley.

2012 Earl Stevens Mango­scato: Finally, we tried the Earl Stevens Mango­scato wine, created by platinum selling recording artist, E­40. This wine has a very sweet aroma, 18% alcohol and is not for the faint of heart.

Favorite Wines of the Evening

The favorites of the night were the Clay Station Viognier and the 2010 Black Stallion Reserve Cabernet.

Thank you to Elizabeth for her impressive presentation and sharing many exclusive, innovative and rare Delicato wines!

This post was Contributed by Erica Schreckenghaust.

Which Foods Are Most Challenging to Match with Wine?

The right wine with the right dish can be heaven, but there are a few foods that are challenging to match with wine.  What are they?  According to a new infographic chart prepared by CorrChilled, the answers are:

  • Artichokes
  • Asparagus
  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Green Beans

However if you have the right seasonings, sauces, or cheese, even these more bitter tasting vegetables can pair well with wine.

CorrChilled‘s Infographic on Food & Wine Pairing

Check out the infographic below, which illustrates a simple way to pair your favorite wine style with food.  For example, if you have a dry white wine, the chart suggests raw vegetables, grilled vegetables or a fish dish as a great pairing. Just add a little salt or lemon, and you are ready to go!

The infographic, also shows you the temperature in which you should be keeping these different types of wine.

Feel free to print this out and hang it on the wall of your kitchen or wine cellar.  Feel free to share with friends.

Infographic on Wine Pairing

Infographic on Wine Pairing