GENEVA, N.Y. — One of the world’s first and most prolific craft beverage is ready for its time under the spotlight in modern times. Mead, a craft beverage made with honey, has just joined the likes of beer, wine, cider, and distilled spirits as being designated with farm licenses from New York State. This opens up farmers and craft beverage producers with a new way to grow their business by adding mead to their production, as a client, or on their menus.
New York State is poised to lead in the mead making marketplace due to the volume of honey – the main ingredient in mead – produced in the state makes it the volume leader in the Northeast. According to the USDA, New York State produced 2,688 million pounds of honey valued at $8,978,000 in 2018. The value of honey production in New York State is more than the next highest honey producing states in the Northeast, Maine, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Vermont combined.
On September 10, Geneva hosts the first conference in New York State focused on all aspects of mead making – from production to marketing to merchandising and introducing mead to hospitality menus. Organized by Cornell Cooperative Extension of Ontario County, speakers will come from throughout the country as well as production sessions held in conjunction with the Cornell University’s Agritech (formerly the Agricultural Experiment Station) Craft Beverage Institute.
“Since Geneva is the heart of the Finger Lakes culinary movement and a gateway to the region, holding the first conference of this type seemed like the right way to spotlight mead as it joins beer, wine, cider, and distilled spirits as eligible for farm licenses,” says Pilar McKay, Agricultural Economic Development Resource Educator at Cornell Cooperative Extension and conference organizer.
The New York State Mead Making Immersive Conference hosts keynote speaker Ken Schramm, author of The Compleat Meadmaker and owner of Schramm’s Meadery in Ferndale, Michigan. Ken is credited to be a leader of mead making in the United States due to his mastery of the craft and elevating the craft beverage to the mainstream.
The conference is meant to bring together current mead makers, future mead makers, including farm craft beverage producers who are looking to add another beverage to their lineup, honey producers, and restaurant and hospitality professionals.
Opening night of the conference, there will be a Mead Tasting designed for craft beverage professionals in the hospitality industry and craft beverage enthusiasts who want to learn more about mead to add to their menus or their shelves. This event is led by Mutiny Distribution, America’s first mead-only distributor who is based in New York City.
“We’ve decided the best way to spotlight mead in New York State is to highlight the entire marketplace around mead – from bees to honey to mead to menu,” continues Pilar, “We are not in the business developing one end of the marketplace and not the others, and we need all parts to work together so we can help an entire industry grow.”
The conference is going to be held at the Ramada Geneva Lakefront and Finger Lakes Welcome Center. The Monday night mead tasting venue will be announced in August. Registration is open at cceontario.org. The conference and Monday night tasting combined is $150 and the Monday night tasting alone is $15.
Monday, September 9: Opening Reception Tasting – 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Location TBD
Tuesday, September 10: All Day Conference – 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
This program is funded, in part, with a Farm Credit Northeast AgEnhancement Grant. These grant supports programs, project and events that are intended to strengthen agriculture, commercial fishing and the forest products sector in the Northeast. This program is a combined effort of Farm Credit East, Yankee Farm Credit and CoBank.
More about Cornell Cooperative Extension of Ontario County:
For more than 100 years, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Ontario County is a proven investment in providing research-based education, personalized programming that addresses current and emerging needs, and engages residents in enhancing the quality of life for all in Ontario County. Cornell Cooperative Extension of Ontario County is located on North Main Street in Canandaigua and home to 4-H Camp Bristol Hills. Please visit cceontario.org for more information on agricultural, 4-H Clubs and 4-H Camp Bristol Hills, and other programming open to the public.
Cornell Cooperative Extension is an employer and educator recognized for valuing AA/EEO, Protected Veterans, and Individuals with Disabilities and provides equal program and employment opportunities.
–Cornell Cooperative Extension
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