New Business of the Year: 810 Meadworks

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 12 September 2015 at 12:00 am

Chamber of Commerce award winner

Photos by Tom Rivers – Bryan DeGraw, co-owner of 810 Meadworks with his wife LaRissa, is pictured in the tasting room of the business at 113 West Center St., Medina.”It’s a relaxing atmosphere, a lounge atmosphere,” he said about the tasting room. “It’s not a loud bar.”

MEDINA – A business that serves “Bee Vomit” opened last Nov. 30, and it has proven a draw to downtown Medina for mead, music and relaxation.

Bryan and LaRissa DeGraw opened 810 Meadworks in a former barbershop in the historic R.H. Newell Building at 113 West Center St. They produce meads, which are alcoholic drinks made by fermenting honey with water and often fruits, spices, grains and hops.

They have about a dozen flavors of mead, with dry, semi-sweet and sweet. The Bee Vomit is a dry mead made with cascade hops.

The DeGraws are from New Jersey. Mr. DeGraw was working as a physical education and health teacher at a residential facility for at-risk youth. He was also a home brewer and mead maker for five years.

LaRissa DeGraw makes a variety of chocolates at 810 Meadworks. She is pictured in the production area of the business.

LaRissa’s parents, Tina and Ray Gunder, retired to Kent. The DeGraws visited the area and liked downtown Medina, the historic charm of the downtown and the cluster of many small business owners.

“I don’t have any business regrets,” Mr. DeGraw said about starting 810 Meadworks. “I’m happy with where we’re at. We doubled our sales projections for the first year.”

The Orleans County Chamber of Commerce has named 810 Meadowrks as the “New Business of the Year.” The DeGraws and other award winners will be recognized on Friday during an awards banquet at Tillman’s Village Inn.

810 Meadworks is a unique draw among wineries. It is the only meadery between Albany and Ohio. The meadery also is located in a historic downtown building in a small town, rather than in a country setting.

810 Meadworks opened last Nov. 30, but gave customers the first taste of the local mead during the Ale in Autumn event last September. Bryan DeGraw, back left, discusses mead with the crowd.

The Niagara Wine Trail about two years ago was officially extended past Niagara County, through Orleans and all the way to Route 390 in Rochester. Medina finds itself ideally situated in the middle of the expanded Niagara Wine Trail. That was another reason why the DeGraws wanted to open 810 Meadworks in downtown Medina.

810 Meadworks uses “810” in its name from the Bible verse Nehemiah 8:10: “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

The DeGraws also ran a concert series at the the “beegarten” in the back of the building. Preach Freedom (center), a former member of the acclaimed band Rusted Root, performed in Medina on June 20 at the space formerly known as Boiler 54. Freedom was joined by Marla Harris and Steve Davis at the concert in Medina.

The DeGraws were also drawn to the historic Newell building because of other businesses that shared the building, including the Shirt Factory Cafe and the Boiler 54 performing venue.

However, Boiler 54 wasn’t able to continue the concert series in an open air venue in the back of the buidling this year. With the series sidelined for 2015, the DeGraws decided to step forward and run the series, rebranding the space as the “beegarten.”

“I didn’t want to see the space sit empty,” DeGraw said. “It’s such an amazing spot.”

810 Meadworks decorated a float for the Parade of Lights in Medina last year.

DeGraw said he is grateful for the encouragement from the community.

“People around here are to happy to support a local business and people doing something they love,” he said.