I never have been a mead fan. The honey wine has never been my thing.
It always brings back memories of “ye olde” friends dressed in their regalia at Renaissance faires, tromping around, speaking in fake English accents, with pewter mugs full of homemade sweet, sticky mead an extremely hot summer day.
And while I love those friends, neither their hobby nor mead excited me. Until recently – the mead, that is.
My friend Karl was visiting from Washington, D.C., and we had went wine tasting during his visit. My friend Jessi, who works at Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards, had asked if I had heard of Heidrun Meadery – they make sparkling mead. I groaned a bit, and Karl’s eyes lit up. Yeah, Karl has a perchance for ye olde festivities and I knew I could not disappointment him.
Therefore, the next day we drove to the California coast to check out Heidrun Meadery in Point Reyes Station – the only place in the USA making mead in the Méthode Champenoise style, which the method is used to make Champagne.
Here is why I fell in love with Heidrun and why you should add this special place to your to do list when visiting the San Francisco Bay Area.
Heidrun Meadery is located little over 1 hour north of San Francisco in Point Reyes Station in Marin County, California. It’s a perfect stopping point between San Francisco and Bodega Bay. Be sure to check out the quaint town of Point Reyes Station nearby, too.
Mead is an alcoholic drink made by fermenting honey and water together. The honey often has the flavor of whatever type of flowers the bees visit. For example, at Heidrun you can find a California Orange Blossom sparkling mead that tastes of the essence of Spring – fresh, citrus flavor reminiscent of a creamsicle.
It’s an ancient drink. Mead ingredients have been discovered in Chinese pottery, dating back to 6500-7000 BCE. Mead was a preferred beverage in Ancient Greece. It is mentioned in Hindu’s sacred Rigveda. Early recipes date back to AD 60. Mead remains popular especially in Eastern Europe and Africa.
As I mentioned previously, mead has a reputation for being a rather “geeky” beverage. Its reputation as a re-enacting warrior’s preferred drink of choice is historically accurate – Scottish warriors drank it in excess, along with the Danish warriors in Beowulf.
The meadery is named for Heidrun, the mythological Norse goat that instead of milk, produces mead. (Best goat ever!)
Mead is slowly making a comeback, riding on the end of the craft beer and cider craze.
Mead tasting at Heidrun Meadery
Heidrun is charming, rustic and hip. Tastings occur in an old greenhouse decorated with pollinator friendly plants for sale and old winemaking equipment dotting the space.
When we arrived, the gardener was holding down the fort, as the tasting room manager was at lunch. She was extremely friendly, welcoming, and laid back. It was a nice, unpretentious vibe compared with some wine tasting experiences I’ve had.
The mead is produced using honey from around the country and they are in the process of developing estate mead, with the help of resident bees.
We tasted four meads during our visit – Hawaiian Lehua Blossom ($30), Hawaiian Macadamia Nut Blossom ($25), Oregon Radish Blossom ($25) and one still mead, Oregon Meadowfoam Blossom ($18).
The meads were all distinct. Similar to the way terroir makes a wine unique, the honey that is used to make mead provides a unique flavor.
The Hawaiian Macadamia Nut Blossom is rich, full-bodied, and has a hint of sweetness as found in the nut. Oregon Radish Blossom was my personal favorite – it tasted more like a French Champagne, think Dom Perignon – it was very dry, had a strong earthy, very funky nose, and a sparkly refreshing finish. (But at the same time, it’s nothing like Champagne!)
Picnic tables abound with views of rolling hills – folks were enjoying their own food and the picnic grounds after purchasing a glass or bottle of mead. When we visited, a group of women at a picnic tables were enjoying fresh oysters from Tomales Bay Oyster Company.
We walked the gardens, hanging out with the gardener who had walked us through our tasting. She grows fragrant, pollinator friendly flowers that help the local bees thrive and are harvested for sale. Locals and nearby restaurants get weekly organic flower deliveries to their door.
Time slowed down while we wandered the grounds and sipped our mead. Two hours passed and we made our way back to the tasting room to take home our favorite bubbly bottles.
The price points are just right, especially for such a unique, low production product. They also sell the honey used to make the mead.
Heiðrun has a magic about it – it harks back to the old days when wineries were rustic and unique finds were still reasonably priced. It’s a special place.
Their meads might not please every palette – there is a sweetest to some, a funkiness to others. An acquired taste, perhaps. However, the mead makes for a great conversation starter, a unique gift, and the environment of the meadery is a place that will continue to draw me back to visit on a regular basis (I’ve went back already once, alone, after this trip!).
I also have become obsessed with discovering locally produced meads, and there aren’t many. Let’s just say I’ve become spoiled with having Heidrun a mere hour from my house!
Heidrun Meadery is family and pet friendly and ADA accessible. Tastings start at $15 and are waived with a purchase of three bottles or more bottles per person.
Heidrun Meadery is closed Tuesdays. They are located at 11925 State Route 1, Point Reyes Station, California. 415-663-9122. Visit heidrunmeadery.com to learn more. Also check out the Marin Convention & Visitors Bureau for other ideas.
Have you ever had mead?
What do you think of it? Share your thoughts in the comments below!