By Howard Ludwig | June 8, 2016
WASHINGTON HEIGHTS, IL — Greg Fischer likes to say he has 80,000 workers — most of which show up every day without pay.
Fischer owns Wild Blossom Meadery, Winery and Brewery in Beverly. The unpaid employees he’s so proud of are his honey bees. Fischer has more than 100 hives and uses the honey to make mead.
Mead is an ancient alcoholic beverage made from fermented honey. Fischer operates the only meadery in Illinois and some of his locally-produced honey is also used to brew beer as well as add flavor to traditional wines, ciders and more.
Fischer plans to open a 9,450-square-foot production facility in September at 9030 S. Hermitage Ave. in Washington Heights. The sprawling headquarters sets up Wild Blossom to boost its output and host tasting events in its foyer adjacent to the Dan Ryan Woods.
“We sell our mead all over the country,” Fisher said Friday. “The whole craft beverage scene is just taking off, so the potential here is really great.”
Wild Blossom debuted in 1995 at 10033 S. Western Ave. in Beverly. The unassuming storefront also operates as Bev Art Brewer & Winemaker Supply. This arm of the business sells wine- and beer-making supplies.
Fischer is undecided about whether he’ll keep his original store open when the new headquarters makes its debut. That said, he’s also planning to sell supplies from the new office as well as teach beer- and wine-making classes there.
In fact, his classes introduced beer-making to Neil Byers, owner of Beverly’s Horse Thief Hollow brew pub as well as wine-making to the owner of the Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant chain. Fischer has also taught countless other home distillers his craft.
Fischer makes about 4,000 gallons of mead, wine and other beverages each year in Beverly. His Wild Blossom products are sold at Binny’s Beverage Depot, a downstate liquor chain called Friar Tuck and other independent and chain stores.
But Wild Blossom cannot sell direct to customers in Beverly because of its location on the east side of Western Avenue, where alcohol sales are prohibited. The new location does not have these restrictions, and Fischer believes that will boost his business.
He expects to increase his annual volume to nearly 20,000 gallons at the new facility near the 91st Street/Beverly Hills Metra station. The new building, greater capacity and the ability to invite customers into their shop should also raise Wild Blossom’s profile in the craft beverage niche, Fisher said.
“If I produce a really cool place, it is going to be great,” he said.
Fischer said he’s modeling his business after 3 Floyds Brewing Co., which also began as a production-focused facility in 1996. The Munster, Ind.-based brewery has since added a brewpub and become a destination for craft beer enthusiasts thirsty for tours.
Meadery Profile: Wild Blossom Meadery and Winery