Making Mead, Manâ€™s Oldest Wine
By Stephanie Krieger
Tell us about your business.My business is Nani Moon Mead and it’s located in Kapa’a. I make, produce and sell a line of tropical honey wine made exclusively from honey and tropical fruits right here in Hawai’i. The idea came to me when I was hiking up in Koke’e and I heard the honeybees buzzing around in the native canopy. It struck me that the forest, just by having bees in there, is economically viable if you were to set up hives and take the honey.
What sets your business apart? All of us, in terms of local businesses, strive to really just make ends meet and to provide for our community. So I’d like to focus on the similarity of small businesses here on Kaua’i just working together. And if everyone supported small businesses, we would really be keeping our money more centralized on the island rather than paying large corporations. What sets me apart – not so much from the local businesses but from the two other wineries here in Hawaii – is I am the only winery that sources 100 percent of my raw materials from the Islands. I’m also the only winery that doesn’t use sulfites – a preservative that is used to stabilize the wine as a product.
What motivates you to get up and go to work? I have a really good time working here. I really enjoy it. I arrived today with a 20-pound box of lilikoi sitting at my door from a local farmer. The first few years here have been a struggle financially, but every single time I pay a local farmer to bring fruit down to the store, it just feels really good. I love my relationships with the local farmers and beekeepers. I have relationships with local pig hunters and pig trappers, who take all the compost, as well. So it’s a nice circle. We get the fruit, we use it and whatever we don’t use goes back to the land. And I also really enjoy making the people happy who come in here and buy the product.
Do you have a philosophy for doing business? My philosophy is encompassed in the business by buying locally and selling locally. All my accounts are within in the state of Hawaii. My business philosophy is buy local, sell local and help grow our local economy by supporting our local businesses.
What is the most challenging aspect of your business? The finances. The cost of rent and utilities; even the cost of just simply getting the bottles sent here. The only pieces of the product that come from off-island are the outside packaging, and just getting them over here at a reasonable rate is very challenging.
How do you measure success? I really feel like success is a form of wealth. This whole process has been extremely challenging financially, but the wealth that all of us get from living on this island – being able to wake up every day and enjoying what’s around us, the mountains and the ocean, and being able to go to the weekly farmer’s markets and eat so close, and get our food so close, not only the vegetables, but also the fish and our meat – that, for me, is wealth in so many forms.
D Kuhio Hwy., Kapaa 823-0486
Tasting room is open noon to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.