Although grape wine has dominated the scene for hundreds of years, Campbell’s Gold Honey Farm and Meadery in Abbotsford is reigniting tradition.
They’re a certified meadery, brewing the nectar of the gods and bringing it to the mere mortals of the Fraser Valley. Nestled amidst the repetitive rows of grape vines on the Winery Route on 16 Ave, Campbell’s has decided to revive (and perfect) the world’s most ancient alcoholic beverage.
Mead begins the clock in terms of the history of alcohol. The ancient Greeks had genuinely categorized it as the drink of the gods (think of those Ferrero Rocher commercials but with honey wine instead) and had associated all sorts of fabulous properties with it like health and poetry writing.
In Norse mythology “heavenly” mead makes many appearances and it even has a place in our own culture: mead was long the traditional gift to newlyweds and honeymooners, which is indeed where the term ‘honeymoon’ comes from.
Seeing as honey wine (or mead) is considered the ancient drink of love, it’s only suiting that Campbell’s Gold Honey Farm and Meadery was started and run by retired couple, Judy and Mike Campbell. They’ve been married for 40 years (this April), but the love for bees was not an instant connection.
For Mike, bees had always been givers of fruit and flowers – lovely little insects doing their jobs.
For Judy, bees were stinging horrors with wings that made picnickers fear for their lives.
She was very slow to accept Mike’s post-retirement hobby of beekeeping. He had inherited a beehive from a friend who had to get rid of it due to complaints from nearby neighbours.
The idea (or perhaps the threat) for a profitable farm came after bees invaded the basement when Judy was downstairs, trapped with them.
“Eventually I had to tell him you either tone this down as a hobby or you ramp it up as a business,” Judy recalls with a laugh.
It took being stung by a bee for Judy to realize that the sting was worth the honey.
She (as well as Mike) are now certified Master Beekeepers and care for their hives like their neighbors care for their horses.
Now they’re producing internationally acclaimed honey wines and bees wax – winning gold, silver, and bronze Mazer Cup awards for four different wines over the past two years.
They offer honey wine (mead), honey and grape wine (pyment), honey and fruit wine (melomel), as well as holiday specials, and they are certainly planning to win some more awards in this upcoming year.
In fact, the farm was recently nominated for an Environmental Leadership award by the Abbotsford rotary club.
Although recognized internationally, Campbell’s always keeps its focus on home and on its B.C. grassroots. All fruit added to their melomels is either grown on their 8-acre farm or imported from somewhere down the road in Abbotsford.
Their focus is on creating the full spectrum of bee products, selling bees wax candles, a beauty product/lotion line, and even honey chocolate in their store. They also spend their summer season focusing on giving informational tours about our little black and yellow friends.
“Some kids come in and they don’t even know how to plant a seed or where their fruit comes from,” the Campbells say.
As with any love story, there’s always a little heartbreak and for Judy that’s considering the future of bee populations. She warns that future generations cannot lose awareness for bees because “we’re at the other end of that food cycle.”
Luckily for us, education on the importance of bees is quite simple. All you’ll need is a glass of mead to make you fall in love and remind you of how very much we want them to stay around.
Campbell’s Gold Honey Farm & Meadery
Address: 2595 Lefeuvre Road, Abbotsford
Hours: Tuesday to Friday 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sunday 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Closed Mondays, Stats and January