By LISA CURRAN MATTE
In 2020, winemaker and entrepreneur Ayele Solomon introduced his honey wine to Shark Tank and got a nod from all four sharks. Bee d’Vine is still in business, yet no investment has actually been made by the Sharks more than a year later.
Solomon first learned how to make honey wine in Ethiopia, locally known as t'ej. He subsequently honed his vintner skills in South Africa and at his father's vineyard in California's Livermore Valley.
A trip to Ethiopia's Kafa rainforest made him realize how its flora and fauna make an ideal habitat for bees. Being a conservationist, Solomon pledged to protect the area since he was also working in wildlife protection and forest conservation.
After a lengthy research-and-development phase, he debuted Bee D'Vine honey wine to positive reviews. Solomon 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.
Solomon and his four Shark Tank investors have not signed on the dotted line yet. According to “Shark Tank” investor Lori Greiner, that's not unusual, as the handshake at the end of a successful pitch is just the beginning of a much longer process.