Here's What Shark Tank's Honey Wine Is Doing Now

Ayele Solomon made a deal as sweet as honey when he partnered with a few sharks last year. The Ethiopian-born entrepreneur's up-and-coming business, the Honey Wine Company, was feeling the effects of the pandemic lockdown in 2020 (via Cuisine Noir) when Solomon found out he had been selected to pitch his business to potential investors on ABC's "Shark Tank." According to 2 Paragraphs, Solomon entered the Tank seeking an investment of $750,000 in exchange for 20% equity. In the end, he shook hands with four sharks — Mark Cuban, Lori Greiner, Robert Herjavec, and guest shark Daniel Lubetzky of KIND Bars — giving up 40 percent of his business (10 percent per shark) in exchange for $750,000.

Following the November 2020 air date, Solomon shared his plans with Wine Spectator. With hopes to catch the attention of wine aficionados and high-end restaurants, he looked forward to creating new wine varietals made from honey harvested in specific regions around the world. The Sonoma, California resident and business owner also expressed interest in searching for honey produced in his native Ethiopia, which is where he originally learned how to make the specialty.

More about the Honey Wine Company

Solomon's audience with "Shark Tank" investors was part of a much longer journey. He first learned how to make honey wine in Ethiopia, where it is locally known as t'ej, and subsequently honed his vintner skills in the Stellenbosch region of South Africa and at his father's vineyard in California's Livermore Valley, Wine Spectator reports. 

Solomon was inspired to take t'ej to a new level during a drive through Ethiopia's Kafa rainforest in 2009, where he realized the flora and fauna would make an ideal habitat for bees — another reason, in addition to already destructive deforestation, to protect the area. The idea wasn't such a stretch for Solomon, who was working in wildlife protection and forest conservation at the time (via Cuisine Noir). After a lengthy research-and-development phase, he debuted Bee D'Vine honey wine to positive reviews, including a 2014 guest spot on the "Today Show." Solomon also opened a tasting room in San Francisco's Ferry Building in December of 2019, but it closed a few months later due to the pandemic.

Where is Bee D'Vine now?

The current decade brings us back to the "Shark Tank" deal. As it turns out, Solomon and his four investors never signed on the dotted line. As of July 2021, Bee D'Vine was still in business, but without any "Shark Tank" investors involved, according to the Shark Tank Blog. Apparently, that's not unusual, as the handshake at the end of a successful pitch is just the beginning of a longer process. Follow-up steps include independent research by potential investors and more. "It's a handshake deal, so we have to learn more," "Shark Tank" investor Lori Greiner told CNBC. "My due diligence team gives me a nice report on everything about the company, and then we all sit down and determine what would be best for everybody."

We're not sure what tanked Bee D'Vine's deal with the investors, but the company website and online order page remain up and running, with a few varieties of honey wine currently listed as sold out.