Around the time that Heirloom Cookshop celebrated its first birthday, we gained a Snoqualmie Valley friend in Orenda Winery. Founded by newlyweds Samantha and Xander Kent in August 2018, Orenda Winery is a culmination of the talents, skills, histories and dreams of the couple and their two close friends Mark Bosso and Brian Bartley.
Having met ten years previously during their Peace Corps service beekeeping in The Gambia, Xander, Mark, and Brian developed and maintained a bond over their common commitment to creating and stewarding healthy ecosystems. It is no surprise, then, that when Samantha and Xander came together in matrimony and the four together in business, pollinators were an essential part of the Orenda equation.
In addition to being a winery, tasting room, and event space, the Orenda property in Carnation, Washington, is also home to 80 honeybees that produce the essential sweetener in our teas and on our shelves at Heirloom Cookshop. Autumn months are an especially ripe time to stock up on this pantry staple, as what was once blond and translucent at our summer Green Market, is a now a rich amber color. Xander of Orenda explains that their “fall harvest honey is darker, more robust, and complex tasting...due to varying wildflower species that bloom during different times of the year.” With Japanese Knotweed one of the major pollination sources for the Orenda bees, the fall harvest honey is not only darker and more flavorful, “it also contains more nutrients including vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.” Even more impressively, thanks to the hard work of the 80 Orenda bees, each bottle contains “the nectar of 500,000 individual flowers” in the Snoqualmie Valley.
At Heirloom Cookshop, we are whisking Orenda Honey into vinaigrettes, melting it into black teas, and drizzling it into yogurt parfaits with our toasted coconut granola. Great for naturally sweetening your holiday baking or hot toddies, Orenda Honey pleases the palate just as much as their bees do the environment.