By Judy E. Hamilton, Staff writer
The Charleston Gazette
DRYFORK, WV — The word “mead,” for many of us, may conjure up images of medieval England, where characters from Geoffrey Chaucer’s “Canterbury Tales” are roaming in a scenic field. With three meaderies in the state — which produce wine from honey — some winemakers are hoping those faraway images soon will be replaced with scenes of West Virginia hillsides.
Ben McKean is one of those optimistic winemakers hoping for a tourism trail to bring attention to his 80-acre honey and mead producing farm, Healthberry Farm and Honey River Meadery, located in Randolph County.
McKean’s apiary, where bees are raised for their honey, is quite expansive.
“I have 90 hives, 60 in production. The hives are on other farms as well in the Dryfork River valley. I’m on seven other farms as well as this farm. We’ll produce about 2,500 pounds of honey this year,” McKean said.
With each hive averaging 50,000 bees, he tends close to 5 million honeybees.
Part of the raw honey he produces in made into mead, melomel and pyment — types of honey wine.
“I bought the farm in 1993. It was an abandoned farm. The honey business was established in 1995. The winery was established in 2012. This is a winery in it’s infancy,” he said, explaining that the meads are aged for two years before they are bottled.