The Sweet Honey of Life
Grandma always says, “Life is all about choices.” The longer we live, the more we understand this wisdom. One rarely knows how a single moment in time might change your life forever.
Four decades ago, a happy, hard-working couple moved to Signal Ridge in Philo and gave birth to an exceptional son, Andre “Andy” DuVigneaud, in a surplus army tent surrounded by a fairy ring circle of redwoods. Both had moved around a lot as a result of family military careers and were delighted to find refuge in such a charmingly peaceful, natural environment. Over the next five years, they built a beautifully detailed wooden home—without using any power tools, had two more children, and settled full time on the Ridge, where they continue to share their creative spirits and talents with the local community to this day.
Thirty-five years ago, a brave, hopelessly romantic young woman from rural Illinois travelled to St. Petersburg, Russia during the Cold War to study literature. Contrary to the college’s rules, she went off campus to take private piano lessons and fell in love with a handsome aspiring dentist who lived next door. They married and came to America, carrying the first of their three children, Alisa “Ali” Nemo. In the summer of 2012, Ali, who inherited their spirit of adventure, chose to drive across the country from Sarasota, Florida to Anderson Valley, California, to work harvest season at Handley Cellars. Little did she know that this decision would change her life forever.
When Ali crashed a dinner party that Andy was attending at Stone & Embers, it was the beginning of a beautiful friendship. After sending back corked wine, finding delicious solutions to dietary restrictions, and planning another meet up the following week for birthday celebrations, Andy was already hoping that maybe Ali could one day be ridgy, a Boontling term for someone who lives on a remote ridge top. Andy soon invited Ali up to the Ridge for a gourmet meal of venison roadkill, cooked in the ground overnight, and it was the most tender and delicious meat imaginable. This was the first of many delectable meals they shared.
About this time, Andy’s college buddy asked him to assist with his winemaking project in Sonoma County. Andy had ten years’ experience working at Navarro Vineyards and had innate gifts when it came to sense of smell and on-the-spot decision making skills. They agreed to share the winery space and made wine together, with the help of Ali and one other diligent cellar worker.
When Andy outgrew the Sonoma winery, he decided to come back home to work in the valley. He had long standing connections with stellar grape farmers and soon purchased a few tons from each of them, starting down the path of the boutique winemaker. When it came time to bottle and label the wines, Ali assisted by offering up a name she’d found in a Boontling dictionary—Bee Hunter, a Boontling term for someone who enjoys the sweet honey of life but is able to avoid the stings that life can present.
By following the bees to some of the best vineyards in Northern California, we’re honored to share the magic of our neighbors and friends with wine lovers around the country. Half of our vineyards are certified organic and many are sustainable, dry farmed, biodynamic and family owned. Together with Ali’s brother, a graphic designer, and a fantastic local artist, the label was created, and the first dozen Bee Hunter wines were released in January 2018.
The Bee Hunter mission is to make connections that educate and inspire, support neighbors, participate in charity events, and have a great time along the way. Recently asked “What is your favorite marketing style?” Ali answered, “by word of mouth,” and Andy said, “by being persuaded with delicious food and wine.” This pretty much sums up the way Bee Hunter Wine chooses to operate. Brand champions pass along the Bee Huntin’ spirit, and each perfect pairing leads to another great experience. When Bee Hunter Wine entered into the American Fine Wine Competition this year, all twelve wines won awards, with the Rose of Pinot Noir almost winning best of show.
So it is that Andy and Ali choose to buzz around, sharing the good flavors of Mendocino wine country from coast to coast. With the goals of environmental awareness, supporting local economies, being responsibly playful, and experiential education at the core of their company, Bee Hunters Andy and Ali are inspired to share the history, biology, chemistry, gastronomy, ecology, and ideology of their surrounding area.
By choosing to showcase high quality products from special, hidden vineyards in Mendocino, they, like the bees, collect the sweet fruit of the vine and turn it into award winning wine for all to enjoy. Always bee huntin’ for the best things in life!
Be sure to check out www.beehunterwine.com for the full list so you can taste their expression of the vines.