Jesse Parkinson’s family has been producing food from the land around Kaikoura for over 50 years. It started with a 6ha block in Peketa in the 1950s where the family grew organic vegetables and grains to mill their own flour. Soon after, they started beekeeping and making their own honey, which, decades down the track, gave rise to the business now run by Jesse: Hexagon Mead.
Jesse took over Hexagon Mead after his father, Nick, fell asleep in 2020. Nick was a well-known apiarist who had been making honey under the Mountainhoney brand (formally known as Kaikoura Apiaries) for 20-odd years. He achieved organic certification in 2002. It was Jesse who brought his interest in brewing to the table, initially creating a honey beer before giving mead a crack at his Dad’s suggestion. They perfected the process and started producing limited annual barrels of quality, organic, oak-aged mead in 2015.
Often dubbed ‘honey wine’, mead is one of the oldest beverages in the world, predating traditional grape wine in many cultures. The fermented honey drink contains just three ingredients: honey, water and yeast, producing an alcohol content between 10 to 14% and a sweetness somewhere between a Riesling and a dessert wine. Having well and truly shaken off its ‘old fashioned’ shackles in recent years, mead is making a resurgence due in part to consumers’ interest in farm-to-plate provenance stories and the appeal of diverse, small-scale craft brewing. Not to mention, it’s delicious!
Hexagon Mead ticks each of those boxes, modelling a vertical integration business structure where every single step in the process is managed on-site with home-grown and traceable ingredients. And they are committed to their ethos of ‘high quality, reserve batch ageing and first-class presentation’.
Hexagon Mead takes its name from a unique, rustic hut built on Jesse’s family land many years ago. Designed to reflect the distinctive shape of a honey cell, this little building is a throwback to the family history in beekeeping and honey production, yet holds true today as a symbol of the new generation, producing from the family land just like they’ve always done.
Why North Canterbury? North Canterbury is one of the best back yards anyone could dream of and provides a landscape and climate that is suited both for wine and honey. We have combined the two with our products, all of which are sourced from the region and provide a range of distinct flavours that are all worth celebrating.
What is your favourite thing to do in North Canterbury? I have a great respect for the rivers of North Canterbury, and like to visit the Ashley Gorge and the upper Hurunui Valley to go whitewater kayaking.
Top three North Canterbury brands? The Bee Box Kaikoura, and all of the local goods stocked there.