While driving through the last remaining parts of Ethiopia's Kafa rainforest in 2009, conservationist Ayele Solomon, 2019 Food & Wine Magazine Tastmaker, had an idea that might help save them. Why not find a way to make trees more valuable to local residents so that they had an incentive to protect them – not cut them down. Inspired by his country's national beverage t'ej (honey wine), Ayele realized that these flowering trees were an ideal source of nectar and pollen that bees use to make valuable honey. This set Ayele on a quest to better understand the art and business of creating honey wine. He evaluating production in Ethiopia and South Africa, but settled on the world-class wine region of Sonoma – not far from where he grew up – using California honey for the first varietals.
Kafa Forest Bisected by a Tributary of the Gojeb River
Many farming communities worldwide use basic agriculture practices that sometimes don't produce enough food or income to live on.
Traditional, hollow beehives hanged in trees are one of these practices – they produce only a few pounds of poor quality honey per year – while frame beehives invented in 1852 and top bar hives produce up to ten times more honey.
The people in the Kafa forest region of Ethiopia live on a few dollars a day due to outdated farming practices such as these traditional hives, which they hang in trees for wild bees to inhabit – watch how they do it. Meanwhile, their low incomes are forcing them to cut down the important Kafa rainforest – where coffee originated – for planting crops and to make charcoal from the wood. These practices reduced native tree cover in Ethiopia from 40% to 3% in the last 50 years! Ironically, less tree flowers means less honey.
Proceeds from wine sales will finance modern beehive conversions in Kafa and earn Kafa families five times more household income while saving their forest and reducing carbon emissions – read more on sustainability, forests and the plight of bees in our award-winning playful and informative book.
With partners, Ayele is working on a much larger project to conserve 250,000 hectares in Kafa, share forest carbon revenues with communities and convert thousands of beehives to modern ones, read about it here. In the future, rare honeys sourced from Kafa forest communities will make ultra premium varietals of Bee d'Vine.
Modern Beekeeping Training in Ethiopia.
Drinking Bee d'Vine is an indulgence that's actually quite revolutionary since it leads to many good things. We call this the "TASTE CHANGE" effect. But what does it mean?
When you sip fragrant and smooth Bee d'Vine, you'll experience the taste of exotic floral nectars dancing on your palate – a change for most of us for sure.
While delightful, this is minor and short-lived compared to the fact that every sip of Bee d'Vine also promotes a permanent change for thousands of beekeeping households and the forests of Kafa and around the world. Purchase of Bee d'Vine also supports California beekeepers while saving our endangered bees to make our food and air, what can be more important than that? So let's drink to beekeepers and farmers everywhere and to the future of the Earth!