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A new craft alcohol business cleared a major hurdle to open in the City of Williamsburg.
The Williamsburg City Council approved a Special Use Permit for the Silver Hand Meadery to operate at a location in the 200 block of Monticello Avenue next to the Monticello Shopping Center.
The meadery, which produces the alcoholic beverage known as mead by fermenting honey, is the project of Glenn Lavender, a local musician and beekeeping enthusiast.
The Monticello Avenue property’s zoning allows microbreweries, microdistilleries, microwineries and microcideries with a special use permit, which allows functions not explicitly allowed for in the zoning code.
The city’s zoning code defines “micro” craft alcoholic beverages as operations making less than 15,000 barrels of product per year. Lavender said he expects an initial production capacity of 70 to 95 barrels per year.
The council members were unanimous in their support for Lavender’s proposal.
Vice Mayor Paul Freiling said the meadery would add economic vitality and diversity to the Monticello corridor, and increase evening activity options in the area.
“A few years ago when we were considering some changes to the zoning, that would allow by special use permit the concepts of microdistilleries, microbreweries, this is exactly the type of use we were looking for,” Freiling said. “It’s the type of business we want to encourage in this area.”
Councilman Scott Foster agreed.
“We’re always talking about adding reasons for people to visit or add a day or add an afternoon on a trip to Williamsburg,” Foster said. “Craft beverages are booming. … That’ll be a unique use of the Monticello corridor.”
Lavender has been making his own mead for seven years, and wants to transform a section of the building at into a mead production site and tasting room, with a 450-square foot patio in the front.
The location would also include retail sales, food and beverage sales and the display and sale of local art.
City staff supported the proposal in a May memo to the Planning Commission, and the planners were unanimous in their recommendation of the meadery.
Mead is one of the fastest-growing sectors of the craft alcoholic beverage industry, with more than 200 meaderies operating nationwide, including eight in Virginia.
When Silver Hand Meadery opens, it will join a burgeoning craft alcoholic beverage scene in the Williamsburg area.
Williamsburg Distillery is slated to open this summer along Merrimac Trail in James City County. Williamsburg AleWerks craft brewery opened in Ewell Business Park in York County in 2006. Sperryville-based Copper Fox Distillery has plans to open a microdistillery at the former site of the Lord Paget Motel on Capitol Landing Road in the fall, and the Virginia Beer Company envisions a fall opening at a Second Street location in York County.
Lavender said the first batches of mead could be ready for sale by November.