Van Hunks is a premium sparkling mead, handcrafted in small batches on the foothills of Table Mountain, South Africa. The producers use a patented dry fermentation technique, achieving a dry fermentation of the honey that ferments their base mead completely dry.
We reached out to Tom Gamborg, the founder of Van Hunks Drinks, and asked him a few questions about honey, sparkles, and more.
How did you come up with the idea of creating Van Hunks?
The idea for Van Hunks was born originally out of creating a brand for the sparkling wine category because of the Stellenbosch region that produces incredible sparkling wine. There was never a great brand associated with it – a great brand that a younger consumer can buy into and feel a part of and tell their friends about. So that’s how Van Hunks was born. The idea started in sparkling wine, and then it migrated into a sparkling mead which follows the same techniques as a sparkling wine does, but we are doing it with an innovative, honey-based product instead.
What is it like to launch the products during a pandemic? What were the biggest challenges for you?
The biggest challenge was timing. Timing of getting the most basic hurdles of getting a brand ready for market became absolute mountains to overcome. And that was mainly in the regions of simple logistical things such as label printing, bottle production and shipping. Everything was taking five times longer than it would have in a normal environment. An example for that – trying to ship out of a Cape Town port. They normally have four lanes open for shipping, which was reduced to only one in the pandemic.
Van Hunks mead is handcrafted in a picturesque place on the foothills of Table Mountain. Tell us a few things you like about this place and why you chose Cape Town to produce your mead.
The first thing for this product is the provenance that comes with Cape Town, and from that we get our amazing honey and honey bees and our landscape, and it also gives Cape Town an opportunity to get on the map for not only being a tourist destination but for also being a producer of really fine products. It was always going to be Cape Town and nowhere else. Some of my fondest memories are growing up in Cape Town, I got married there, and for me it is my second home.
You use a patented dry fermentation technique to produce your mead. Tell us please a little bit about this process and how this method was invented.
The dry fermentation method was invented by my partner, Dr. Ernst Thompson. We can’t tell you anything about it. Its top secret. ;)
What is your favourite way to drink sparkling mead? What is the best food pairing for this drink?
My favourite is the Rosé sparkling mead – it is a really nice hybrid between a sparkling wine and mead. The best thing to pair it with would be some cold meats or seafood - like prawns.
Tell us a little bit about your life outside Van Hunks. What excites and inspires you?
My life outside of Van Hunks is very drinks orientated, whether it’s helping out on Don Papa Rum or running the agency. But if I ever have time to do anything else, it would be playing with my son or doing sport, which is usually paddle or golf. And of course, drinking in the pub.
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