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      Honey-based winery gaining popularity

      Saint Ambrose Cellars is offering a trendy new beverage: honey-based meads.
      A winery in Benzie County is becoming a hit with honey-lovers. Tucked away in a quiet corner of Beulah, Saint Ambrose Cellars is offering a trendy new beverage: honey-based meads. "The draft is six percent alcohol and carbonated soda, more like a beer than a wine," said winemaker Matt Frollo, "and flavored with honey. It's local honey. People are looking for something different than beer and just wine." Mead has been the best seller. The honey-based recipe has actually been around for thousands of years, but is just now starting to make a comeback. Kirk Jones, founder and owner of Saint Ambrose Cellars, is also a bee-keeper and took their product into his winery. "As time went on with honey it's a natural for a beekeeper to start making mead, which is a honey-based wine," Jones said. Visitors from all over keep coming because the mead is gluten-free and caters to all kinds of diets. "To all the people who are into the Paleo Diet, mead has no gluten as opposed to beer," said assistant mead maker Scott Cramton. "So it's an alternative beverage, along with cider which we also make." Jones said they are going through major renovations and will have a grand opening in September. He is also a lead singer of a local Cajun band and will be performing at the event. In the meantime, the tasting room is still open seven days a week. "We want to give back to our community," Jones said. "We want to have a big party in our 1860 barn and have three bands including our band, the Benzie Playboys, and do a big zydeco dance party." The grand opening will place September 13 at Saint Ambrose Cellars and will include taste testing for the honey-based mead.