September was traditionally NC Wine Month*, a sweet time to celebrate with Becky and Ben Starr. September 4, 2020, is Starrlight Mead’s 10-year anniversary celebration. Starrlight Mead is a winery specializing in mead, or honey wine, made primarily from local North Carolina honey. Becky and Ben Starr have been pouring the time into the work and pouring meads for guests for 10 years, eight of them in a location in historic Chatham Mills and the last two in a new space on Lorax Lane in the Chatham Beverage District. “Our new facility is exactly what we wanted from the beginning,” states Becky. “I wanted a Mead Hall with a vaulted ceiling, a huge fireplace and a wraparound porch. We also wanted a place for community gatherings and special occasions. That’s slowed a bit right now, of course.”
Important for guests to know is that the meadery offers plentiful options for safely social distancing, both indoors and outside. The venue continues to offer a wonderfully romantic space for intimate weddings.
Many home brewers and hobbies are perfected over time. Sometimes, it’s a craft and a career.
The Starrs started making mead as home mead makers in 2004. In 2006, they entered their first mead competition and took home the Best in Show award out of 212 international entries. “We were shocked when we won. On the plane ride home, we were starting our business plan and trying to figure out how to make it work,” says Becky. It took some time and hunting to find the right location for the new business. “We looked at several locations, but loved the small, quirky feel of Pittsboro.”
Starrlight Mead opened Saturday, September 4, 2010, with three flavors and a lot of friends who had been waiting years for the opening. They added two more flavors a few months later and the portfolio continued to grow each year as their business matured. Now, there are regularly 15 to 20 different meads on the menu with more unique ones added frequently.
Despite common notion, mead can be dry like a traditional wine or sweet like honey. September and October this year will bring back seasonal favorites Cranberry Orange, Kickin’ Cranberry Orange with chipotle peppers from neighboring Copeland Springs Farm, and Pomegranate Pink Peppercorn. Starrlight Meads have won 30+ medals in competition, including Best in Category for the best mead entered at the American Wine Society International Wine Competition.
Find Starrlight Meads at the meadery in Pittsboro or at local bottle shops throughout North Carolina. The Starrs were planning a big party to celebrate this 10-year milestone, but COVID-19 requirements have put a hold on the big event until next year (next year, Chatham County turns 250 so perhaps the Starrs will align for all of us in 2021).
This year, throughout the entire Labor Day weekend, Starrlight Mead will feature cake from Phoenix Bakery (Pittsboro) for everyone who visits the meadery to celebrate, with mead, of course. “We’re so amazed at the number of people who come back and visit time after time. We’ve found so much love and support here in Pittsboro! We are so grateful to be pouring mead 10 years later,” states Starr.
Labor Day decade celebration dates: Sat, Sep 5, 12pm -6 pm. Sun, Sep 6, 1-5 pm, Mon, Sep 7, 12pm – 5pm
Contact: Becky Starr for more information, 919.533.6314
Fun Facts During the Decade:
- Starrlight Mead has purchased 63,048 pounds of honey (31.5 tons).
- Total production is 97,395 bottles, approximately 8,116 cases of mead.
- Even after 10 years, a large percentage of visitors have never tried mead before.
- Starrlight Mead has introduced 35+ different meads/flavors over the years.
- There were just under 100 meaderies in the country in 2010 when Starrlight Mead opened. There are now approximately 450 with another 50 wineries/breweries that also make mead.
- There are currently 13 mead producers in NC, with several more in the planning stages.
- Last year, the Starrs helped create the NC Mead Alliance with mead maker Diane Currier of Honeygirl Meadery in Durham.
- May is now NC Wine Month (April is NC Beer Month) and August is NC Grape Month.