It begins with a not-too-sweet, smooth honey taste and quickly changes to semisweet chocolate, (you can smell the brownies baking now, right?) and as the chocolate seeps further into your mouth, there’s a warm sensation as the finish is a “whisper,” yes a super subtle hint of Jalapeño. This is the taste to be enjoyed and delighted with when sipping the two-time Double Gold winning Mayan Voyage dessert honey wine produced by Queen’s Winery.
Father and son, Ray and Joe Southwell have been making Honey Wine for over 10 years. They began with an alternating proprietorship at Bob Landon’s Greenville facility in 2010. Both Landon and the Southwells realized they’d quickly outgrown their arrangements and Ray and Joe opened their current facility in Garland, Texas which is the first Kosher Winery in Texas.
As Texas Wine Lover discovered with other proud Honey Wine and Mead makers in Texas, these folks are proud of the history accompanying Honey Wine. From Queen’s Winery’s own marketing collateral materials, “Honey wine is the oldest form of alcohol known to mankind. It has been bottled for over 10,000 years (that’s 2,000 years before the wheel and axle).”
Queen’s Winery isn’t a winery for visiting in the traditional sense. There’s no sign, no grand entrance, no vineyard to appreciate, and no tasting room. And this is totally OK. The Southwells use what they like to call a purpose driven outbound sales approach. Ray stated during our visit, “We understand who our customer is,” citing retail channels as the biggest source of their customers.
You can find the three Honey Wines produced by Queen’s Winery in the Dallas and Houston areas at Whole Foods, Central Market, Total Wine, Sigel’s, Market Street, Four Seasons Market, Phoenicia Specialty Foods, Dallas Farmer’s Market, Richardson Farmer’s Market, and elsewhere at seasonal farmer’s markets. Stop in to a Whole Foods in the Dallas area coming up and you won’t be surprised to run into the Southwells supporting their retailers by pouring their Honey Wines for in-store sampling.
The three Honey Wines produced by Queen’s Winery are:
- Sweet Banquet – Sweet like Honey, Fun like Wine, Honey all grown up for adults. (For me, similar to Riesling or Moscato)
- Cellar Dry – Big Honey Bouquet; Sharp and Crisp on the palate; very creative. (For me, similar to the floral from Sancerre, crisp like a Sauvignon Blanc)
- Mayan Voyage – Starts as Honey, changes to Chocolate, and finishes with a whisper of Jalapeño. (A superb dessert style wine in its own class. No argument from me why this wine has won two Double Golds at the Lone Star International Wine Competition 2014 and 2015.)
Did you know…
Queen’s Winery is the only Go Texan, Kosher Winery in the world? They use the finest custom blended pure American Honey procured from a company in Waxahachie, Texas. (I was amused to hear they order the honey blend in the quantity of about 5,000 pounds at a time. This is a huge container of honey.) They are Kosher Certified by the Orthodox Union. All ingredients are traced to their original sources and every point of the supply chain requires a kosher certification. For over 8 years, Joe Southwell worked with his father with various formulas of Honeys, water and different yeasts to “get it right” to produce the delightful Honey Wines available today.
A few Honey Wine making notes from the processes the Southwells shared with Texas Wine Lover:
- Custom blended honey, yeast, and water from reverse osmosis ferment for 30-35 days
- They clarify the Honey Wine – twice – with a pharmaceutical grade centrifuge and store in stainless steel tanks until bottling
- Joe scrutinizes his own natural aging process and each batch with an eye for quality and makes any needed adjustments. He started developing his winemaking skills and won awards while in college.
- Ray is the process driven member of their partnership and is meticulous about the details
- They have up to 1,500 gallons available for bottling at their discretion
Some other fun details to mention about Queen’s Winery:
- They provide some neat packaging: custom engraved bottles for VIP Guests, Wedding favors, and Company Logo’d swag, etc. The engraving machine is also portable.
- They provide private labeling for Honey and Grape Wine
- They use all eco-friendly packaging including the easy to re-seal Zork Closure
- Their wines are bottled in Cobalt Blue bottles, the first choice color of ladies
The Southwells enjoy creating events to demonstrate the differences between Honey Wine and Grape Wine, to educate wine drinkers about the importance of optimized glassware while drinking wine, and they enjoy wine maker’s dinners where they pair the host’s recipes with their Honey Wines.
In closing I’m pleased to share the Southwells and Queen’s Winery are headed towards their best year ever since they started. They believe in giving back to the community. Through their many events and private tastings they dedicate 10% of all profits to charities. I hope you’ll seek out some of their “honey all grown up” at a retailer or farmer’s market near you.