As we picked up our wine glasses at 11 a.m., we were already discussing whether the honey wines made in New Hampshire by Moonlight Meadery might be the ideal WineFest "breakfast." A representative from the meadery overheard us and immediately offered to introduce us to founder and mead maker Michael Fairbrother. I knew vaguely that there was a mead producer in New Hampshire, but until I chatted with Michael, I had no idea what a New England success story his business has become.
Older than wine, older than beer--mead is the oldest fermented beverage. But Moonlight Meadery was only started two years ago--in Fairbrother's garage. The former software developer finally quit his day job as the business exploded: He now distributes more than 64 varieties of mead in 23 states and has shipped as far as Australia. And Moonlight Meadery in Londonderry, New Hampshire, is open seven days a week for tastings, tours and sales.
If you think all wines made from honey are sickeningly sweet, the short retort is: You're wrong. But don't get me wrong: We were surprised, too! Fairbrother told us his favorite potion is award-winning Desire: a complex blend of blueberries, black cherries and black currants. We were partial to Kurt's Apple Pie, a spicy cyser made with local apple cider, Madagascar-bourbon vanilla and Vietnamese cinnamon spice. We even tasted a mead called Utopian that is aged and fermented in Samuel Adams Utopias casks and tastes like a fine cognac or sherry. The fun names make these New England-made meads perfect for gift-giving. A pilgrimage to the meadery is now on my must-do list.