A flight of mead with “Dancing with Chupacabra” (hibiscus mead) overlooking the Sugar Creek Vineyard and Meadery's outdoor patio. (Photos by Julie Fryer)
Brothers blend Wine and Mead into a welcoming destination
FOUNTAIN –Brothers Kevin and Bryan Logue have a sweet relationship. One grows grapes, one grows honey, and together they’ve brewed up a successful business just outside of Fountain, Minnesota.
In their third official year at Sugar Creek Vineyard and Meadery, the Logue brothers and their families have combined their hobbies of wine- and mead-making into a tasting experience unique to the area.
Sugar Creek Vineyard and Meadery sits surrounded by rolling hills of grapevines and farm fields with a friendly greeting crew of chickens and a curious goat. A large outside seating area overlooks a vintage red brick silo, more grapevines, and space to chill with your pets (yes, dogs are welcomed!). The cozy indoor tasting room has a large wooden bar and ample seating, each with a view through large windows looking out over the vineyard.
We visited on an autumn day to learn more about this new addition to Southeastern Minnesota’s burgeoning craft beverage market.
On this perfect fall day, both indoor and outdoor areas were overflowing with customers as folks chatted over flights of wine and mead, played games, and met up with new and old friends. One couple stopped in on their way back to Cloquet, Minn., to give mead a try and to explore the area.
Visiting from a neighboring farm, Candy Hobbs told us, “Sugar Creek Vineyard and Meadery is a small place with a big taste. Their mead is so unique and these brothers have really put their talents together to create a cozy place to enjoy their local creations.”
True Local Flavor
Both brothers have had long careers serving their community: Bryan as a teacher (now retired) and Kevin still working as a registered nurse. In their “spare” time, they grew grapes; raised bees; and honed their skills of wine- and mead-making.
In 2020, they decided to share their unique creations with local customers and along with Kelly, Bryan’s wife, started up Sugar Creek Vineyard and Meadery. In the three years since they’ve been open, the demand for their mead and wine has grown exponentially and in 2023 they built an official tasting room with an attached brewing area that doubles as overflow event space. Their products are now on the shelves of local liquor stores including 52 Bottle Shop in Chatfield and Grannies Liquor in Lanesboro.
Every batch starts with grapes or honey grown by Bryan and Kevin and is augmented with more of each from local growers. In 2023 they used nearly 14 tons of grapes and 1800 pounds of honey! The Logues also help other area grape growers learn more about viticulture and the unique challenges that come with managing vineyards in Minnesota.
“We have been amazed by the local support we’ve gotten as we’ve expanded our business,” Bryan says with a big smile. “We have so many repeat customers and we’ve really enjoyed having this indoor space to extend our season”.
So…What is Mead?
Older than wine and originally thought to provide immortality, mead dates back more than 9000 years to the Henan Province of Northern China. Ancient Greeks called it the “nectar of the gods” and mead was a Scandinavian staple during the Viking Age. Many believe mead was discovered when ancient peoples found abandoned and naturally sealed beehives where the honey had fermented on its own.
Today, mead has made a resurgence across the country as a trendy farm-to-table cocktail with industry watchers predicting an 18% growth in the next five years.
Unlike wine or beer, a mead maker doesn’t need special weather, plants, or soil. All they need is abundant blossoms and busy honeybees to fill the hives with honey. Because honey can be stored indefinitely, mead can be made year-round. Similar to winemaking, ingredients are combined without cooking and left to ferment in bottles for a year. Also like premium wine, mead will improve with age as the delicate flavor profile develops.
The base mead ingredients are simple: honey + water + yeast + time. The magic happens when the mead maker adds other flavors to the fermentation process. With this simple base, mead is especially versatile and can handle whatever combination brewers are willing to try! The Logue brothers are not afraid to experiment with their mead and have tried everything from chocolate to oranges to hibiscus flowers. They start with a base that works well with the flavoring – for instance, a wildflower honey works best with fruit or flowers. Once combined, the mead ages for the full year, is filtered and rebottled, and when finished, will have an alcohol content ranging from 4% all the way up to 20%. Because no grain is used, mead is a gluten-free product.
True mead must be at least 60% fermented honey. Unless the mead maker boils the honey, all the health benefits of honey (antioxidants, antibacterial properties, and minerals) remain. Some research suggests that mead can support gut health and in early England a spiced, herbal mead was used as medicine. Pyment, a combination of wine and mead, also made by Sugar Creek, leads to endless variations depending on the mead and wine used.
What does Mead Taste Like?
Mead’s taste, color, and scent depend on so many factors and can range from extra sweet to spicy to dry just like wine. And yes, the honeybees’ diets will change the flavor as their honey takes on hints of the flowers they visit. This wide range of flavors makes mead a great complement to nearly any dish. The lighter, fruitier versions go well with cheese or appetizers while the gingery, spicy mead is a great addition to hearty fall meals.
A great way to find your favorite flavor is to try a flight of mead which includes four small glasses of different flavors. The folks at Sugar Creek will combine whatever you’d like to try but you can also try it (and their wine) by the glass or the bottle.
“The variety of different meads was the best part,” says Logan Maher who biked in from Stewartville. “Just like with wine or beer, there is a flavor or style for every palette!”
Plan Your Visit to Sugar Creek Vineyard and Meadery
The Logues have created a family- and dog-friendly environment perfect for an afternoon getaway in the beautiful hills and valleys of Southeastern Minnesota.
Located just 2.6 miles west of Fountain at 23661 West County 8, Sugar Creek Vineyard and Meadery is open Thursday and Friday from 4:00 pm to 8:00 pm; Saturday from 1:00 pm to 8:00 pm; and Sunday from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm.
The tasting room will stay open through the end of December, weather permitting, and reopen in mid-winter of 2024–but it’s recommended to check the website as wintry weather grabs hold. Outside food and pets are welcome and they can put together a private booking for larger groups.
Additional information is available on the Sugar Creek Vineyard and Meadery website.
Julie Fryer is a marketing and writing consultant who helps small businesses navigate the world of ecommerce. She lives in Chatfield and is an avid gardener, sugarmaker, and camper with a full bookshelf of to-be-read books