by Alastair Bland
On the wind-whipped shore of Tomales Bay, just uphill from the marshes near Point Reyes Station, local honey is dissolved into vats of water and fermented into what may be the oldest alcoholic beverage — mead.
This is Heidrun Meadery. Going north on Highway 1, take a left into the driveway. Lean your bicycle against a post. Now, have a look around. You may find it as funny as I did during my first visit that someone had planted a picturesque orchard of olive trees here. Nice touch, but really? Olives on the coast? This isn’t Sicily. Whoever planted them should have planted apples. I asked later about the trees and learned that they were planted before Heidrun set up camp here in 2011. I was told the trees, though doing the best they can on the chilly shores of the bay, have not yet produced edible fruit.
Anyway, I’m assuming you want mead, so go inside the greenhouse (yes, the tastings are conducted in a greenhouse). It’s warmer in here, and the meads are lined up on the chest-high counter for tasting. It’s $15 a person for four samples (roughly the equivalent of a glass-and-a-half of wine) of mead. No reservation is needed, though you must call ahead if you hope to have a tour of the property, which includes a vegetable farm.
Heidrun’s lineup includes meads made of California orange blossom honey, Point Reyes wildflower honey, alfalfa and clover blossom honey, California avocado blossom honey and Oregon radish blossom.
Mead, one discovers at the Heidrun tasting bar, is delicious. It is not cloyingly sweet, either. Just as grape juice can be fermented to dryness, so can honey water. Heidrun’s meads are sparkling (most meads are not) and are made by the méthode Champenoise used in making certain bubbly wines. In flavor and aroma, mead is absolutely unique. Though the yeast ferments the honey almost completely into alcohol, enough aromatic and flavor compounds remain to tell your tongue in an instant that this drink is made from the sweet nectary spittle of bees.
Meadery Profile: Heidrun Meadery