These articles were posted in the AMMA Facebook group over the space of the first year of operation of Melovino Meadery in Vauxhall, NJ. With persmission from Sergio, I am reposting them here for your enjoyment. — Vicky
by Sergio Moutela
What I’ve learned in 2.5 months after opening my meadery.
We had around 125 visitors come in for a tour and tasting in October (our first full month of business). In November, we have had over 320 so far with still one more week to go. Final number for November projected to be over 375.
My plan for success was simply: make sure I offered something for everyone with a range of uniquely flavored meads of various sweetness levels. I also was a bit conservative with my starting lineup of meads as I knew that a majority of the people that would walk through my door would be mead “newbies”.
My starting lineup of five meads has proven to be the way to go at least in the starting up phase of Melovino. Wanted to make sure everyone saw what kind of range mead is capable of, that it is not all sweet just because it has honey, and to exemplify how different honey varietals can significantly impact what the final product of a mead will be, especially since most people think “honey is just honey”.
My starting lineup:
Low semi sweet traditinal
Higher semi sweet traditional
This helped ensure (mostly) everyone that walks through our door for a tour, or that buys our product off a shelf likes at least one of our products. Also helped me learn as I build my identity as a meadery as to what my market likes best. Then I can start crunching those numbers on those top selling recipes to bring margins up and give everyone who walks through our door something else to look forward to and keep coming back for more.
Working on some high dollar priced meads right now (based on what I’ve learned thus far) that the regulars will be sure to buy in a heartbeat, and based on enough track record for me to know that a good portion of the rest of my audience will at least be more than interested in buying even if it is just for the perceived value aspect of the high pricing.
For my tours, my main focus is to share and sell our passion. Have people fall in love with you and the business before they even taste anything. Second, educate everyone on mead and talk about all of the new meads that will be coming out. This has people already thinking about coming back, again, before they even taste a thing. THEN, after all the build up, you let them taste… And they will be amazed.
I have also started a mead club which in two short months has built up a list of over 60 club members (close to 15% conversion rate), and is on track to easily reach over 200 before we ship out our first club shipment. This guarantees a minimum of two cases of mead sold per year, per club member. The club membership perks are tremendous and ensures that those fans that truly love your stuff get the royal treatment. This helps build the relationship you have with your customers as well as starts building a community around your product and business. Now you have a BRAND.
So looking forward to what the future holds as we progress towards the goals we have set in place. And everything mentioned above might come as being solely business minded rather than the anti-sellout kind of mentality, and make the passion part sound like bullshit. But in the end, it is a business, and in order for you to continue with your passion as a Meadmaker, the business has to be successful.
I haven’t even began paying myself yet as everything is being reinvested back into the business. Not an easy thing to do, but the sacrifice now will help pave the way for the future, like two more big tanks for 1000 gallon batches along with a bottling line to help us take things to the next level.
Owner of Melovino Meadery, Sergio Moutela, has become a notable award-winning mead maker who’s products have wowed even the most discerning and educated of palettes. His mead has been served at the James Beard House in NYC and has won multiple Gold medals in some of the biggest mead competitions in the world, amateur and professional.
Find him and his meads at http://www.melovinomead.com
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