We are in the home stretch towards our Grand Opening in October, and wanted to take a moment to reflect on the past 15 months of making a meadery.
The committing moment came back in June 2013 when we signed our lease for 1500 square feet of warehouse space on Hood Street in downtown Durham. Of course, we had been working on the business plans long before that, but the lease was our stake in the ground. Here we go.
First up, we got our TTB applications together to apply for our Federal winery permit. We had been warned that it could be difficult, time-consuming, and bureaucratic, and also re-assured that we would make it through it, as so many before us had done. We approached it doggedly and methodically.
For at least a few months, we worked to create a detailed vision for the space. The kinds of equipment, the needs for water, sewer and electric, the literal flow of the production space, all were carefully considered and mapped out. Then formal plans were developed, and edited, and edited again, as we worked to learn the ins and outs of commercial building codes. We had lots of help in this stage, from many talented people who knew a lot more about building than we did. We were rewarded with an approved building permit.
Then the real work began, in October 2013, when the concrete floors were cut to put in water and sewer lines. Water is a critical component of our mead, and so we put a great deal of thought into our filtration and water heating needs. Our contractor, Fred Griffith, and his great team of professionals put in months of work to transform the warehouse into a full-blown mead factory.
During the construction we de-camped back to our home office to work on the branding and marketing, to tweak our test batches, and do lots more research on equipment and supplies. We got some t-shirts designed and locally screen printed. We starting having some open houses on Third Fridays, to give people a chance to take a peak at our progress. We got some feedback at those events, and started to see a growing group of mead enthusiasts who were cheering us on. It really helped!
We made progress, slowly but surely, on our many licenses and permits. We got our winery license in January 2014. We got our mead recipes approved a couple months later. Now we had permission to start making mead! We got our tanks delivered in April, and worked to complete our production line. Connecting all the systems, testing them, and many trips to home improvement stores later, the line was operational. The first batch of mead went into the tank in June, on our one year anniversary in the space. Our website launched shortly after that.
We are still working, doggedly and methodically, towards the goal of Opening. Making a meadery is more than just making mead. We are proud to have made it this far, with your support, help and encouragement. We are looking forward to sharing our meads with you as we continue to grow and blossom.