Jeff and Jennifer Herbert, founders-owners of Superstition Meadery in Prescott, were honored as the 2019 National Small Business Persons of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) in Washington, D.C.
They received the prestigious award during gala ceremonies May 6, selected from nominees representing all 50 states and U.S territories.
The Herberts were recognized the week before on May 2 at the state level during the 26th Arizona SBA Enterprise Business Awards luncheon in Scottsdale.
They were nominated for the honors by Jeri Denniston, Director of Yavapai College Small Business Development Center.
Jeff Herbert told the press, “Representing Prescott out of thousands of small businesses, I cannot believe my wife and I were on stage in Washington, D.C. receiving the highest honor in the nation for small businesses.”
He said they were humbled their business had achieved such high recognition at the national level. He credited his staff with much of that success.
The entrepreneurs first made mead in 2008 at their former home in Apache Junction.Jeff explains, “Originally, I started by making home-brew beer. The guy where I bought my home-brew products told me to try making mead. We did. We liked it better than our first beer.”
They later moved to Skull Valley where at the former Juniper Well Ranch and Vineyards they made 300 gallons of mead and cider. Their success prompted them to move to Prescott. By the end of 2017, Superstition Meadery had become the largest winery in Arizona.
Superstition Meadery opened as a retail business in an historic Downtown building at 120. W. Gurley St. with thousands of bottles shelved in a tasting room. The Meadery is open seven days a week.
Locals tasted the mead, liked it. Its reputation has grown as Prescott area residents and tourists keep spreading the word.
Jeff said, “By the end of this year, we’ll have produced 39,000 gallons — more than 500 barrels of mead.”
Superstition Meadery Products Now Distributed Nationally, Internationally
In seven years, the Herberts have expanded the market for their mead to virtually every community in Arizona. They’ll soon open another meadery in downtown Phoenix. It will be on the northwest corner of 11th and Washington streets. They hope to open in early 2020.
Sales don’t stop at the Arizona border. They ship to 37 other states and Washington, D.C.
Their beverages also are available at several retailers in Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Belgium and in Asia at Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and Thailand. Most recently, they have been in discussions with a firm in Sweden to expand international distribution.
According to Herbert, the flavors are unlimited. He said he and his wife are constantly involved in the creation process. The production facility has more than 200 unique meads and hard ciders, ranging in flavor from dry to sweet and even sparkling.
As founding members of the American Mead Makers Association, Jeff also serves as a board member.
The Herberts are enthusiastic about the future. They were particularly gratified when six Superstition Meadery products were included in a recent list of the 15 best meads in the world.
More information is available online at superstitionmeadery.com or at 928 458-4256.
What Is Mead?
The Herberts describe mead as an alcoholic beverage that results from fermenting honey with water and yeast. They then blend in flavors from spices, fruits, grains or hops. Historically, mead is one of the oldest alcoholic beverages and has been around an estimated 7,000 years.
The majority of the beverage’s fermentable sugar comes from honey. The Herberts get pure Arizona honey from Crockett’s Honey in Tempe and other sources. They create their dozens of distinctive flavors by identifying and buying the best international ingredients they can find, such as saffron from Morocco or vanilla beans from Tahiti.
The mead is produced in a facility the Herberts designed and built in 2016 and now are expanding. Twenty-five full time employees work 24/7 supervising the complex fermenting, bottling and distribution process.
The mead and hard ciders ferment in 1,000 gallon stainless steel tanks. The liquid then ages in hundreds of charred oak barrels stacked on racks in a carefully monitored, climate-controlled building. Following the bottling process in the same building on the northeast edge of Prescott Regional Airpark, the beverages are packaged and distributed.