Planning Commission Gives Blessing to Meadery Proposal

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meadA proposed craft alcohol business in the City of Williamsburg is one step closer to reality.

The Williamsburg Planning Commission unanimously voted to recommend the City Council approve the Silver Hand Meadery’s application to open for business on Monticello Avenue next to the Monticello Shopping Center.

The meadery is the brainchild of Williamsburg resident Glenn Lavender, a professional musician and beekeeping enthusiast. Lavender is seeking the approval of a special use permit to manufacture the alcoholic beverage, which is derived from fermenting honey in a process similar to winemaking.

Microbreweries, microdistilleries, microwineries and microcideries are allowed at Lavender’s chosen Monticello Avenue location with a special use permit. Another portion of the building is occupied by a doctor’s office.

Lavender, who has crafted his own mead for seven years, proposes to transform a section of the building at 224 Monticello Ave. into a mead production site and tasting room, with a 450-square-foot patio in the front.

The location would include manufacturing capacity, retail sales, food and beverage sales and the display and sale of local art.

City staff came out in favor of the proposal in a memo to the Planning Commission.

Rev. James Swynford, the pastor of Inspiration Church, which occupies a location in the Monticello Shopping Center, also spoke in favor of the proposal.

“I’ve known Glenn for about five months or so, and heartily recommend this endeavor,” Swynford said. “I think this kind of enterprise would add a lot in a lot of ways to the economic mix. It would just do a lot for community engagement and enlivening the area.”

Planning Commission Chairman Demetrios Florakis, who voted to recommend the proposal, said the meadery would add to the area’s burgeoning craft alcohol market. Williamsburg AleWerks opened on Ewell Road in York County in 2006. The Copper Fox Distillery is set to move into the former Lord Paget Motel on Capitol Landing Road in the fall, and Virginia Beer Company is eyeing a fall opening at a Second Street location in York County.

“I think it’s a very good opportunity and a unique opportunity to maybe be able to define ourselves as a [craft alcohol destination], and maybe give us a little bit of an edge tourist-wise, as well, for folks who want to visit and taste what we’re producing here in town,” Florakis said.

Mead is one of the fastest-growing sectors of the country’s alcoholic beverage industry, with more than 200 meaderies operating nationwide, including eight in Virginia.

The request now moves on to the Williamsburg City Council, which could vote on it at its June meeting.

If the proposal is approved, Lavender said the first batches of mead could be ready for sale by November.

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