We had the good fortune of connecting with Mike Lorey and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Mike, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
I started making mead, wine, hard cider, and beer at home back in 2008 and sharing a little bit with friends. With their encouragement, I started teaching mead and beer making classes. Then I made my first commercial batch of mead at Montaluce Winery in Dahlonega, GA in 2010. We used my recipe and mead-specific knowhow and Maria Peterson, the winemaker at Montaluce Winery at the time, contributed her breadth of experience producing wine on a larger scale. So together we turned 110 gallons of North Georgia Wildflower Honey into 500 gallons of 2010 sparkling wildflower mead. This vintage won a Double Gold Medal at the 2011 International Eastern Wine Competition.
After going from making 5 gallons at a time to 500 gallons of award-winning mead, I thought that I could start my own place and make the exact products that I wanted to. So I started writing the business plan. After quite a few more years and a lot more batches to refine my skill making mead and wine, Waldmet Cellars was opened in August of 2020.
After 12+ years of making mead, hard cider, and wine…I’m finally starting to find my own style. Our products not only highlight the ingredients but also provide a memorable experience. There will always be something new and interesting to try as we continue to refine our techniques and find new inspirations.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I have made a habit of reinventing myself personally and professionally. I started my career in marketing with a bachelors and masters in the field. But my never-ending curiosity led me to graphic design, web development, and eventually software development. Now I work as a Front-End Software Developer during the day and luckily have some wonderful staff to help operate the winery tasting room. I really enjoy finding complex problems to dig into, so software development and winemaking, as well as other hobbies, help provide me with plenty of them.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
We would certainly be enjoying some time at Waldmet Cellars, but we’d also eat at 61 Main, LC Tacos, and The Old Mulehouse in downtown Jasper, have a few beers at Pendley Creek Brewing Company, and possibly make our way up to Reece’s Cider Company in Ellijay.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Starting a winery is certainly no small task, especially when you are responsible for most of the planning, construction, production, operations, and more. I could not have done it without the support of my parents (Bill & Dagmar Lorey), friends in the industry (Tyler Barnes and Tristen Vanhoff at Accent Cellars as well as Daniel and Pam Briordy at Pendley Creek Brewing Company), all our customers, and so many more people.