The Depradine Family Story
The Depradine family is not from Kansas City, Missouri. We are from southern Louisiana, specifically Acadiana, a rural, partially French speaking region west of New Orleans and Baton Rouge. We moved to Kansas City for better employment and educational opportunities in 2015.
The Depradine family started producing mead in 2011 at their former home of Opelousas, Louisiana. Eric wanted to recreate some of the wines he and his wife enjoyed during their honeymoon to the Puget Sound region of Washington. The problem was that Vitis vinfera grapes cannot grow in southern Louisiana for a variety of reasons. Another problem was the lack of land. Eric and DeAundra didn’t own a farm to grow fruit. Determined, Eric did research and learned that wine could be made from honey purchased from anywhere.
Eric made his first batch of mead using locally grown Louisiana oranges in 2011. This orange mead was delicious. However, Eric screwed up the mead by adding oak chips and literally killed a good jug of liquor.
Lacking his own property and looking for outdoor activities, Eric and Dee befriended Eddie Romero, an orchardist in Coteau, 40 miles south of Opelousas. In 2013, the Depradines harvested satsuma oranges from the Romero orchard.
This began a long friendship with the Romero family that has last for many years. Eric used seasonal fruit from this orchard to make many meads, good and bad.
Harvesting and processing fruit has always been a family affair. We don’t believe in age discrimination. If you you can stand on a stool and pound grapes, you’re going to work. Valentina is a good example. She has always liked working with grapes since 2014 as shown in this picture of her pounding muscadine grapes. Now, she just foot treads maréchal foch grapes. It is much more efficient to use your feet.
In 2014, Eric and the kids drove to the Louisiana Gold Honey Farm in Livingston Parish and purchased their first 60 pound bucket of honey. This honey was blended with satsuma juice to make an orange mead. The initial 20 gallon result was good however, the mead oxidized and developed faults associated with Sherry-like flavors. Eric’s knowledge of properly storing mead was limited and as a result, his beautiful satsuma mead, oxidized because it wasn’t blanketed with carbon dioxide or nitrogen.
The family continued to periodically make large 20 gallon batches of mead. It was done as Eric acquired more wine making knowledge from the VESTA (Viticulture and Enology Science and Technology Alliance) classes at the Highland Community College in Wamego, Kansas. Additionally, Eric wanted to practice new recipes and ingredients like the production of t’ej (an Ethiopian mead) and hibiscus (a Trinidadian mead).
Living in Kansas City has been beneficial in numerous ways. One benefit has been living close to Missouri’s center of apple cultivation. Eric grew up in Massachusetts. New York and the New England are considered the Napa Valley of America’s apple horticulture. Every year, Grain to Glass, a now defunct beer supply store in North Kansas City, would have a apple cider pressing day. Eric would pre-order dessert and cider apples, grind and press the pulp for juice, and make his grandmother’s ginger beer recipe using honey and fresh cider. The kids got an opportunity to experience cider making first hand. It was as if there was bit of New England in Kansas City.
Taking the advice of the instructor of the Ice House Entrepreneurship Program at the Missouri Small Business Development Center at the University of Missouri at Kansas City (UMKC), Eric decided to give his mead away at various Missouri home brew competitions in Columbia, Raytown, and Lee’s Summit. The response was overwhelming and positive. Crowds really became enamored with Eric’s grandmother’s hibiscus and mauby meads for their unique tastes and roles in Trinidadian culinary history.