Psenkova Peach Apricot Mead has been released to a few select retailers in Leelanau County, Traverse City and S.E. Michigan.
The back of the bottle has been graced by some Joa Psenka artwork instead of our usual statement about the origin of the fruit and honey. The story of the sketches follows.
The Feds were confused to no end about these meads that were created within a designated AVA (American Viticultural Area) specifically, Leelanau County Michigan. Even more confusing, Psenkova Peach Apricot Mead is made using only honey from our small Leelanau beekeeper and only fruit from Leelanau family farms. Compounding the quagmire, Psenkova Peach Apricot is technically a melomel, a mead combined with the addition of fruit.
Submitting the rear label of Psenkova Peach Apricot Mead with a simple explanation of our ingredients and their origin, we expected smooth sailing, but saw a few clouds on the horizon.
Our initial proposed declaration read: "Psenkova winemaker Shawn Walters uses only honey, peaches and apricots from Michigan's Leelanau Peninsula for our mead."
Denied. The Feds would not have it. Seems that the word Leelanau again was a problem.
We resubmitted the verbiage as thus: "Hand-crafted using only honey from a small Leelanau beekeeper and fruit from Michigan's Little Finger Peninsula and local winemaker Shawn Walters."
This the feds would not go for either.
It may seem interesting to point out that the word Leelanau already appears on our rear label legally because our meads are actually made in Lake Leelanau, Michigan. It was using the word Leelanau in the description that was taboo. We mentioned that our Cherry Mead label was approved with a very similar statement. They suggested that we did not mention that again.
The problem remains that I may not tell you on the bottle that the fruit and honey comes from Leelanau, because Leelanau County is a designated American Viticultural Area. I tried to explain that Psenkova meads are made with no grapes from Leelanau County, grapes are excluded from our melomels entirely, after all we were not making a pyment here. Psenkova Peach Apricot is only fermented honey and fruit, even after explaining that the honey and fruit is actually all from Leelanau County. Not only that, but our fruit and honey is bought directly from family farms that have operated in Leelanau County for over 100 years.
One of the final submission attempts read: "The County that may not be named. It is against federal law for us to tell you where our winemaker Shawn Walters gets the fruit and honey."
We thought it might be a little cute, the Feds were not at all amused and expeditiously denied the label. In fact, they found several new things wrong with both the front and rear label that they had overlooked previously. Psenkova understands and appreciates the value of the AVA's guidelines, even when a good idea gets awry.
Finally decided to scrap the whole backside description entirely. The world would get a taste of some of my Family's art from my Aunt Joa's sketches she created for me specifically regarding honey, it's cultivation and processing. See the complete set of ten sketches online when our new psenkova.com launches soon.