Historically, more honey wine has been consumed than grape wine, so it has a long history of production, but there were none that I knew of that had broad appeal to premium wine and beer enthusiasts. So my goal was to reintroduce mead as smooth honey wine that would not only appeal to people who already enjoy t'ej, the traditional Ethiopian honey wine, or regular mead, but also to people who appreciate beer and grape wine.
So with the help of biochemists, chemists, and winemakers, I set out in early 2009 to make a natural wine with the floral and fragrant qualities of honey while also possessing the balance and complexity of grape wine. Bee d'Vine is the result of years of fermentation and aging trials - 213 gallons, over 1,000 bottles, of trial batches - employing the latest fermentation science and using fresh, raw, local honey and pure spring water. My traditional wine making experience from managing a small family backyard vineyard in California's Livermore Valley is expressed in Bee d'Vine's simplicity of ingredients and complexity of flavors.
Still or sparkling, it comes in the crisp "Brut" for those who fancy drier wines, and the delicious "Demi Sec," a semi-sweet wine for those preferring slightly fruit-forward wines. We introduced a rare 17% dessert "Dolce X" reserve variety in 2020. Unlike grape wine, it has no tannins, so you won't experience the typical grape wine aftertaste that some drinkers perceive as harsh or bitter.
I invite you to celebrate life with a wine glass or berelé of chilled Bee d'Vine.
- Ayele Solomon, Winemaker
HONEY SPRING WATER TIME
Bee d'Vine is crafted close to nature - in Sonoma County near the source of our honey and spring water in Northern California wine country.
We craft every bottle from scratch using just two natural ingredients:
- Fresh raw California honey from hives placed in organic farms, where possible, by family-owned apiaries
- Pure spring water
Then, using our proprietary process, we give the yeast time as they miraculously transform the honey and spring water into our near holy libation. After fermentation, the wine is racked and aged for at least ten months in the barrel and in the bottle.
EXPERIENCE & GRAPE WINES
My traditional wine making experience from managing a family vineyard in California's Livermore Valley is expressed in Bee d'Vine's simplicity of ingredients and complexity of flavors. Grape wines don't have any added ingredients or flavors, similarly our honey wine is simply honey and springwater - while many "mead" brands add herbs, fruits, and even vegetable and roots! My father, an agronomist, planted Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah varieties; we co-ferment all three, a rare-old world technique that is seldom found in modern wineries, to produce Sol Wines. Encouraged by feedback on the limited release estate bottled Sol Wines, I decided to launch the Wancha (ዋንጫ) brand to share my grape wines with a wider audience.
Family grape vineyard managed by Ayele Solomon
Wancha Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. Wancha ዋንጫ means “horn cup” or “winner’s trophy” in the Amharic language. Wanchas are still in use in rural Ethiopia for serving (non-t'ej) drinks...a berelé is used for t'ej. The background of the label is a close-up photo of a horn. Incidentally, the horn is the oldest drinking vessel, popularized by the Vikings who used it for mead or honey wine among other beverages of the time. While Ethiopia is known for honey wine, there is also a rich artisanal (non-domesticated) grape wine tradition in Ethiopia dating back centuries as a refreshment, and beginning in the 4th Century, for use in Holy Communion. I brought both honey and grape wine traditions to California. After many years of experience, WANCHA was born in the heart of Sonoma Valley. The Chardonnay is lightly oaked and drinks like an Italian Chardonnay. The Cabernet Sauvignon is medium tannin, fruity and dry. Grapes for both wines are sourced from either organic or sustainably farmed certified vineyards in Lake County and the Sierra Foothills - find more details and tasting notes on the SHOP Chardonnay page and the Cabernet page.