By Mathew Roland
Soon to occupy 2,000 square feet on the ground floor of 1211 Granary Ave. is a new meadery and cider production business. Founded by Carlos Bassetti and Micah Mainland, Artivem Mead Co. is slated to open summer 2020 in the waterfront space.
The operation is proceeding with a summer opening in mind, but are making plans in case things change, Bassetti said. We are making plans in case we are not permitted to serve people in our space when we open, he added.
“We’re really excited to be in Bellingham and be a part of the community,” Bassetti said. “To be a part of the whole waterfront redevelopment is really cool.”
While Bellingham is well known for its abundance of craft breweries, Artivem will be the second meadery in town. The new space in the Granary Building is equipped to produce between 6,000 and 7,000 gallons of mead per year.
The new tasting room will incorporate large glass windows for spectators to observe the production process. Artivem will also offer tours to educate customers about the mead making process.
”I feel like Carlos brings a level of sophistication, almost like a luxury brand but also down to earth,” said Chris Erdmann, co-founder and managing broker at Bellwether Commercial Real Estate. “His mead is well thought out.”
The alcoholic beverage, which uses honey as the primary fermentation ingredient, is often associated with renaissance fairs and medieval times. However, Artivem aims to spotlight mead as a modern craft beverage, Bassetti said.
“Part of the education aspect of our business is presenting mead in this kind of different context outside of renaissance fairs and Vikings,” Bassetti said. “There is nothing wrong with that, we just think that there are so many more people who will like mead.”
Offering a tasting flight of meads and ciders is a big part of introducing newcomers to the beverage because most people assume mead is extremely sweet, he added.
“Grapes are sweet, that doesn’t mean wine is sweet,” Bassetti said. “There is a whole range of flavors and sweetness levels with wine and it’s the same with mead. You can have a really dry mead or a really sweet dessert mead.”
Artivem takes a craft brewers approach to the mead making process by experimenting with different styles and flavors.
Our first year in business we will never make the same thing twice, Bassetti said. We will take that time to figure out what people are responding to and then go from there, he added.
Artivem has produced a cyser, which consists of apples and honey fermented together. They also have a pyment which can be described as a mead-wine hybrid.
Prior to starting Artivem, Bassetti worked as a mead maker in Arizona. He has been making the beverage professionally for about four years and as a hobby for about eight years. He is recognized as a top 100 brewer out of 36,000 world wide.
After deciding to start their own operation and roughly two years of behind the scenes planning, Bassetti and Mainland sought out Bellingham for a couple of main reasons. In addition to the lively brew scene in Bellingham, the rich agriculture industry in the county was also attractive.
“Another thing that brought us to Washington was the abundance of fruit and agriculture here and the opportunity to use a lot of local products that don’t have to travel a long distance,” Bassetti said.
The name Artivem combines two Latin words, artem which means art and avem which means bird. The name represents creativity and community, two core tenants of our business model, Bassetti said.
The logo was designed by Brad Lockhart and is based on the Washington State Bird, the American Goldfinch. Lockhart also designed the Bellingham flag.
Future goals for Artivem are to add an off-site production facility in Bellingham. If things go well we anticipate we’ll grow out of that space in a year but we will always make our products there, Bassetti said.
“Our expansion is based on what people’s reaction is, we don’t have a lot of interest in growing for growth’s sake because the experience people have around our product is really important to us,” Bassetti said.
Aside from a few hiccups with the Liquor Control Board, Bassetti said the process of opening the new business has been smooth. The LCB had some issues with the first iteration of the facility in which the mead would have been made in the basement of the building, he said.
After a bit of back and forth with the LCB and investors, the meadery re-positioned its production to the first-floor space and acquired a bit more square footage.
It was a bit of a curveball that ended up working out for the best because now we have more space and it’s a lot more interactive, he said.
“When we were imagining our business this is what I dreamt of,” Bassetti said. “It’s so cool that it all worked out and happened like it has because there is nowhere else like this space in Bellingham.”