White Winter Winery was the first commercial mead I’d ever had after Chaucers. Needless to say, I was *extremely* impressed with Kim & Jon’s wares. So much so that I have gone to great lengths to get their mead, and will continue to do so as long as they keep their fabulous meads coming. Go, guys, you do us proud!
Gotmead: What’s is the ‘official’ name of the meadery?
Jon: White Winter Winery, Inc.
Gotmead: So, what are your hours of operation?
Jon: Summer: 10-5 7 days a week (uggh!!) Winter roughly October thru May 1, 1-5 mon – thur 10-5 Fri,Sat, Sun
Gotmead: Do you have a store? Where is it?
Jon: Yes, Located in Iron River Wisconsin on State Hwy 2.
Gotmead: Do you have tastings?
Jon: Yes, free samples to those with appropriate ID.
Gotmead: Where do you distribute? Give us a list with phone numbers, and websites if available
Jon: We have a full list of our distribution sites on our website at http://www.whitewinter.com/Our_Dealers.cfm.
Gotmead: What states can you sell into?
Jon: Only 16 states allow direct shipment of wine that we know of at this point, Some states, like New York, have challenges in the courts at this time as to the unconstitutional nature of restriction of free and fair trade between the states.
Gotmead: How much mead do you make in a representative year?
Jon: Roughly 6-7000 gallons.
Gotmead: What did you do before you ‘went pro’?
Jon: I am a psychotherapist by training and Kim is a certified teacher.
Gotmead: What led you to decide to open a commercial meadery?
Jon: Two hobbies gone wild!!! Bee keeping and homebrewing, no one else seemed to be doing it so why not us!
Gotmead: What sorts of problems/sticking points did you encounter in your state and with the federal authorities in getting your licenses?
Jon: Not really any, Just needed to measure the building to the nearest inch and we had it to the nearest half foot, the devil is in the detail as they say. Make sure all the "T’s" are crossed and the "I’s" are dotted.
Gotmead: Do you have any advice for those looking to ‘go pro’?
Jon: Hang on to your wallet and take the advice my banker gave us…"Don’t quit your day job"!!! and I would add "Yet"!
Gotmead: How long did it take you to get all your ‘ducks in a row’ from the time you decided to do this, to when you opened your doors?
Jon: We did about two years of research and development on recipes and products, business feasibility, etc., visiting and talking with folks around the country.
Gotmead: If you are willing, please tell us what you feel would be reasonable start-up cost guesstimates for a meadery in your state.
Jon: $250,000 to $300,000 would not be unreasonable when operating capital is taken into account. This is a very capital intensive business with long payback times.
Gotmead: What sort of reception did you get when you began your search for distributors? Was it easy getting them to accept mead?
Jon: Cautious and slow to act but some are starting to see the "mead rise" on the horizon.
Gotmead: Lets talk about your mead. What kind of mead do you make, and what do you think sets it apart? Do you specialize in a particular kind?
Jon: We make two traditionals, three melomels, cyser, black mead, and three kinds of bracket. We use locally produced fruits and honey and work hard to support our community in this way. This is a basic life philosophy – buy local and help your neighbors and they in turn buy from you and help you. This makes good sense from an energy standpoint as well since we don’t ship in juice or concentrates from the coasts.
Gotmead: Do you have other products related to your mead? Tell me about them.
Jon: Yes, we also make a hard cider, perry and a blueberry and raspberry non-alcoholic spritzer. All made right here!
Visit White Winter online or in person, and try their wares. They make excellent meads, and are to be congratulated for their success and their dedication to making awesome mead.
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