Local meadery expected to undergo construction in early 2019

Rachel Adams

Five Hives & Vines, a meadery and berry farm, is expected to start construction at the beginning of 2019 in Statesboro.

The company is family-owned by Woonerf LLC, consisting of Eric and Debbie Van Otteren, their son and daughter-in-law Zach and Brooke Van Otteren and friends Wes and Ashley Vanmeter.

Eric Van Otteren said that the plan is to open a meadery with an event center and a pick-your-own berry farm. There will also be beehives on the property, and the company will sell its local honey products.

“Our long term plans are to grow the meadery in five years to a production level of 6,000 gallons of mead and cyser,” Van Otteren said. “We plan to have the event center holding weekly events, weddings, et cetera.”

Mead is an alcoholic beverage with honey, yeast and water, Van Otteren said.

“How it’s made is fairly simple, much simpler than beer. You just mix the honey and the yeast and the water together, and it makes the mead,” Van Otteren said.

The meads the company makes will be flavored with muscadines, blackberries, blueberries and strawberries, all grown on the property. The honey will come from the bees kept on the property and from H.L. Franklin’s Healthy Honey, a company based in Statesboro.

“I’m a beekeeper and I was looking for other ways to use the honey, and when I came across mead I did a little home-brewing,” Van Otteren said. “I enjoy the process and I like bees, and I love honey, and so I turned it into mead. I’ve been a beekeeper since the mid-70s, and I’ve been a home-brewer and making mead for the last five or six years.”

Van Otteren is also working with Santanu Majumdar, associate professor of Graphic Design at Georgia Southern University, and his graphic design class to design bottle labels and packaging.

Meaderies are on the rise, with more than 400 across the United States, and Van Otteren hopes to make his mark in the mead-making business.

“Meaderies are growing at about 30 percent a year,” Van Otteren said. “Generally speaking, the industry says there’s about one new meadery open every week now somewhere in the country.”

Van Otteren said that he is very optimistic and excited about opening and what the company can bring to Statesboro, and what connections it can make in Savannah as well.

“The next step is approval by the planning department of our site development plan,” Van Otteren said.

Five Hives & Vines is expected to open in 2019.

Rachel Adams, The George-Anne News Reporter, ganewsed@georgiasouthern.edu