Romanian honey wine produced by a couple from Buzău - awarded gold at the largest international competition of its kind

Ana Felea
English Section / 28 februarie

Mihai Negoţ

Mihai Negoţ

Versiunea în limba română

Mihai Negoţ, honey wine producer: "I believe the artisanal beverage market is growing."

A young family, settled in a commune in Buzău ten years ago, has managed to introduce the best honey wine in Europe to the market. This refers to a mildly alcoholic beverage obtained from fermented honey, also known as "the drink of the Dacians," which recently received the gold medal at the largest competition of its kind, organized in Poland.

The story of Cristina and Mihai Negoţ began in 2014 when they received five beehives as a wedding gift. That's when they decided to give up their life in Bucharest for country living and to try their hand at production. Initially, they introduced seven varieties of primitive foods based on honey from acacia and rapeseed, to which they added walnuts, forest hazelnuts, and roselle, sea buckthorn, pollen, chokeberries, pistachios, and coconuts. Then they decided to try their luck with a beverage that is very little known in Romania but appreciated abroad. And they succeeded. In 2022, they launched Romania's first low-alcohol honey wine, which they produce in a small factory in the commune of Pătârlagele.

"Honey wine (also called mead) is a fermented alcoholic beverage obtained from natural bee honey, water, and yeast, easily passing as a more refined substitute for beer or, why not, the popular prosecco. I discovered it in London, while strolling, I found a honey-based drink in an artisanal beverage shop. I tasted it, I liked it very much. It's a drink between beer and cider, and I believe it has great potential especially in Romania, where there is a lot of honey of good quality," said Mihai Negoţ, the artisan behind this Romanian artisanal beverage.

The young man says that honey wine is not a difficult beverage to produce: "It has a technological process similar to beer, and the taste is like that of a fruity wine."

The production of honey wine in Pătârlagele began after the Negoţ couple attracted an initial sum of 100,000 euros from a bank and investors, money with which they purchased equipment and raw materials. The factory currently operates at half capacity, producing about 4,000 bottles per month.

"In the first year, we nearly broke even. I believe there is a growing market for artisanal beverages, and we are targeting them. People are happy to taste a beverage made from bee honey, after all, the noblest source of sugar. Some know honey wine from myths or stories and are curious to try it. Most buyers are from urban areas, with above-average salaries. 60% are women, open-minded people who want to experiment. We sell to HORECA, in the cities of Bucharest, Braşov, Timişoara, Valea Buzăului, in grocery stores, and online. We also sell on our website. The price depends on the location: in stores and grocery stores 15-17 lei, in HORECA 17-25 lei per 0.33ml bottle," said Mihai Negoţ.

The beverage produced in Buzău recently received international recognition, being awarded gold at the Mead Madness Cup international competition, which took place in Poland between February 22 and 24.

The distinction obtained at the largest competition in the field in Europe propels Romania directly onto the international podium of honey wine producers, a surprising position considering that in our country, there are very few mead producers.

"This success marks a remarkable moment for the small business in Pătârlagele, Buzău County, which, with the recognition of its work by an experienced jury, hopes to attract more interest in this reinterpretation of one of the oldest drinks in the world," says Mihai Negoţ.

The success of the Buzău producer was also welcomed by the Slow Food community, which emphasized that the prize is all the more important because, in Poland, mead is the national drink.

"We rejoice together with him, and news like this must be spread. As inspiration for young entrepreneurs, as an example for other local producers, as a reason for joy and appreciation. We have evidence that innovation is not impossible, that the products of producers can go far. Literally," wrote representatives of Slow Food Buzău, the community of producers from Buzău, on Facebook.

A message of support for Romanian producers came after winning the gold medal for the honey wine produced in Buzău, also from the former European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development.

"Mihai Negoţ, one of the young beekeepers I met at the local traditional products fair Festivalul LA PAS in Timişoara, has just won the gold medal with his Mead (a honey-based drink made in Pătârlagele, on the Buzău Valley) at the largest European competition in the field.

I am glad to hear such news from small entrepreneurs in agriculture who, through their own efforts, manage to stand out with their tasty and healthy local products and increase their visibility even if they say they belong to the "minor league" in agricultural trade.

Mihai and Cristina, the family that developed Miedăria alongside the beekeeping business in the Buzău Valley, took a chance on rural entrepreneurship after working and living in Bucharest without adapting to the capital's congestion. They started from scratch at home, and today, they sell honey products, including Mead (or Hydromel), with which they won this international award.

These people are proof that you can innovate by looking back at tradition and bring to the market a top-notch, modern product that can find its place in any gourmet restaurant, upscale bar, or simply at home, in the fridge," wrote Dacian Cioloş on Facebook.

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