We have featured many winemakers over the years in the monthly winemaker profile. It is time we feature a meadmaker and Chase Cohagan of Dancing Bee Winery is that meadmaker. If you enjoy mead, if you have never tried it, or even if you do not care for it, I suggest you try some Texas mead. I recently judged some mead in a wine competition, and it has evolved over the years. Give it a try and let’s welcome Chase Cohagan to Texas Wine Lover!
- What did you do before becoming a winemaker (if anything)?
I actually worked here at Walker Honey Farm beekeeping and bottling honey before taking over the mead making part of the business. Before coming to Walker Honey Farm, I delivered pizzas and made glazed hams!
- What is the toughest challenge about being a winemaker in Texas?
Inconsistent weather and Central Texas Blackland soil present plenty of challenges for grape growing, but my favorite challenge is getting a Texas red wine drinker to branch out and try some meads, especially one like our Estate Pyment which combines our vineyard’s Lenoir grapes with local wildflower honey.
- Is winemaking an art or a science or both?
The easy answer is both, but I like to say that it’s an art that science helps us understand. While there is certainly a science to most aspects of wine and mead making, I try not to lose sight of the fact that people all over the world have been fermenting fruit and honey since long before we developed the science to understand it. The lab tech taking a pH measurement and the ancient Sumerian hoping the “gods” (wild yeast) will bless his pot of honey water are different chapters in the same story.
- What is your favorite food and wine pairing?
I’m not too fancy. A handful of salted peanuts with a glass of Blackberry mead is my favorite, like an adult PB&J! Our winery owner, Clint Walker III, loves our semi-dry Raspberry Mead with any poultry—especially Thanksgiving and Christmas turkey—and ham.
- If you didn’t make wine, what would you do?
I hope I would be as fulfilled in some other vocation as I am in my mead making career at Dancing Bee. Whatever my job, I’m sure I would still be fermenting something, even if only as a weekend hobby.
- What first attracted you to winemaking and how long have you been doing it?
My love for craft beer got me into home brewing in college. The untapped potential of mead as a new craft beverage trend drew me to transition to mead and wine. Also, being able to pull honey from a beehive on a Monday and begin fermenting it on Tuesday is still a thrill, and I’ve been doing it for nearly six years.
- What is the most common question you are asked as a winemaker?
Since I’m primarily a meadmaker, it usually goes something like, “Mead is made from honey, so it’s all really sweet, right?” And a lot of meads are sweet, but just like a grape wine, mead can be fermented to dryness.
- After a long day in the winery or vineyard, what do you do?
I’m an unashamed gamer. Retro video games like Super Mario World are the best way to relax after a long day.
- What’s the greatest part about being a winemaker?
Every day is different, and every batch is unique. This work never gets old.
- What is your winemaking philosophy, that is, what are you trying to achieve with your wines?
At Dancing Bee Winery, we want everything we do to call back to our beekeeping legacy. “Bee-to-Bottle” is so much more than a slogan to us. We want everything we provide to be an expression of the beehive: every sip of mead, scent of beeswax soap, or Pretzel dipped in Honey-Mead Mustard.
- Anything else you would like to add?
Come check us out! We have Mead on Tap, Bee-to-Bottle Farm Tours on the first Saturday each month, and I host a Trivia Night the 3rd Saturday each month.