In Dallas, Hana Worede and her business partner Mehret Gebre Sims give Texans a taste of the motherland by preparing Bilquis, an Ethiopian honey wine made in Texas.

By Dalila Thomas (Dallas Observer) |

DALLAS, Tex.―For most people, paying homage to their country includes hanging their nation’s flag, participating in national holidays, even preparing native meals. One woman is taking it a step further. Meet Hana Worede, a dentist by day and part-owner of Bilquis, an Ethiopian honey wine made in Texas.

“This wine is the oldest alcoholic beverage of mankind,” Hana told the Observer. “I didn’t know that. It’s just the wine I’ve been making since I was a kid. It’s a celebratory wine. We usually make it for weddings and baptisms. I can’t take credit for introducing this brand; it was my business partner Mehret Gebre Sims who approached me. She’s Ethiopian too.”

Hana’s true awakening came after completing dental school.

“I had gone back home to do missionary work, just a short stint,” Hana said. “I thought I’d go help them out a little bit before my loans kick in. But I ended up being really depressed because I saw what was lacking. I was exposed to all the stuff that they don’t have. We had everything in dental school, so I just assumed they did too. A year later my business partner came to me with this [wine] idea, and I was like, ‘I’m all in. If this business does well, I want to give back.'”

Six years later, Hana and her partner continue to give Texans a taste of the motherland. To do that, the pair had to be strategic when it came to the appearance of Bilquis, pronounced bill-Keys.

Tej, which is the honey wine’s traditional name, naturally has a dark yellow, murky color,” Hana explained. “For Ethiopians, that’s all we know, but for non-Ethiopians we thought it would push them away or not make them as open to trying it. So we told them to maintain the taste, just make it look like a white wine. Our version is technically considered a Texas wine because we taught a winery in West Texas how to make it.”

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