If you think that the scope of beverage alcohol in America is limited to beer, wine and spirits, then Julia Hertz has news for you.
And if you happen to find yourself in Denver just prior to Valentine’s Day, she’ll happily tell you all about it over a glass of her favorite drink, mead.
Co-organizer of the fifth annual International Mead Festival, to be held Feb. 9-10 at the Sheraton Denver West Hotel, Hertz is a staunch advocate of what she calls “the drink of love,” an elixir of fermented honey that may well be the world’s oldest alcoholic beverage.
Although relatively modest in size, the market for commercial meads has grown dramatically of late, with more than 100 mead-producing companies, or “meaderies,” now estimated to be operating in the United States. That’s up from half that number five to seven years ago, Hertz says. According to industry estimates, mead production accounts for roughly $20 million in annual sales.
Sometimes referred to as “honey wines,” meads can be carbonated or flat, traditional or fruit-flavored, and sweet, semi-sweet or dry. With a range of strengths comparable to those of wine, meads offer at least as many options for food pairings.
For more about the International Mead Festival, visit