THE LAND OF MEAD & HONEY
Texas Companies Offer the Best of the Best of These Products
By Mary Chavoustie
John and Wendy Rohan are the owners/vintners of Rohan Meadery, a small family-owned winery located between Round Top and La Grange. Their award-winning medals come from the Lone Star International Wine Competition, as well as from an equally prestigious competition in the New York Finger Lakes, testaments to their hard work and stellar products. Yet, John is quick to mention it’s not all about the honey.
“People love to come here, yes, for the meads and the honey wine, but they really enjoy being able to bring their families to the country. The farm animals — a herd of Nubian goats, Southdown sheep, assorted chickens, guineas and most recently, two playful Great Pyrenees pups — they win the popular vote as seen each week by the Instagram posts,” John says.
Rohan is Texas’ oldest meadery, a fitting status as John’s great-great grandfather, Frank Rohan, immigrated from Moravia (Czech Republic) and settled just south of the meadery and Blissful Folly Farm, where the Rohans call home. John continues to create mead in a Czech style, resulting in a crisp, clean and slightly drier end product. Their “Honeymoon” Old World-style mead (a sweet mead) is balanced by a delicate oaking in bourbon.
Fruit trees and assorted berry bushes spread across the acreage. Additional Blanc du Bois vines, an American hybrid grape created in 1968, were recently added to the vineyard for the production of honey wine. Presently, one and a-half acres are nurturing dry Tempranillo grapes, while another acre is planted with Black Spanish, a varietal often known as Lenoir, well suited for Texas summers.
Of course, all could not be possible without the bees, the less-aggressive Italian bees in particular, for Blissful Folly Farm. In the summer, bees at the farm number 100,000-200,000, while winter reduces their numbers to the 20,000s.
Rohan Meadery’s Tasting Room is open noon-6 p.m. Thursday through Sunday. Alternate weekends, talented musicians add to the setting, along with a pizza truck to curb hunger pains.
Rohan Meadery, La Grange, 979-249-5652, www.rohanmeadery.com
Christi and Nathan Wade inherited two hives left on the property they purchased in Washington County. Little did they envision their beekeeping dreams would lead to store shelves across the Lone Star State with the brand Lazy Bee Honey Co. Unlike other beekeepers who lease their bees to other parts of the country, the Wades are proud to say within their hives, “Each bee is born, raised and works in Texas, just like the Lazy Bee owners!”
Honey in its raw form has natural anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-microbial properties, hence the historic and present-day belief that honey benefits healing. Lazy Bee Honey Co. is proud to produce 100 percent pure, raw, all-natural local Texas honey.
Raw honey tastes less sweet than the store-bought, pasteurized varieties and for many, just a spoonful brings back good memories.
“We usually have someone that remarks, ‘My Grandpa had a beehive’ and then begins to share their story with us,” says Christi, “or they tell us with a smile, ‘This is what real honey tastes like!’”
“There are times of the years when the bees need to be fed,” Christi further explains. “We help by feeding them their own honey or sugar water with essential oils that help sustain them through the next few months.”
If you’re looking to add true organic honey to your lifestyle, you might have to wait. Honeybees can travel up to two miles to gather pollen. Horsemint and milkweed are both excellent sources, but “convincing” the bees to avoid a nearby pesticide-sprayed pasture is not an option. Since 2010, the USDA has continued to finalize what organic standards are specific to honey to allow beekeepers to qualify for the label.
In addition to their pure raw honey, Lazy Bee Honey Co. markets gourmet honey jams and honey butters, one of which was a Top 25 Finalist in HEB’s Quest for Texas Best Contest. Honey Peanut Spread (aka peanut butter with honey!) is a favorite of all ages. Lazy Bee Honey products are available at area retailers and farmers markets across Texas.
Lazy Bee Honey Co.™, Burton, 979-661-6504, www.lazybeehoneyco.com
Want to learn more about beekeeping? Central Texas Beekeepers Association offers family-friendly, full-day beginning beekeeping classes.