Dallas Dentist Turned ‘Wine‑preneur’ Bottles Ethiopian Tradition

Bilquis is an authentic producer of Tej, an Ethiopian honey wine used as a drink of celebration for thousands of years. Today, the wine label has a social mission and a goal to expand worldwide.

Inside every bottle of Bilquis wine is a mead crafted out of honey, hops, and water—with a taste of Ethiopian tradition, dating back thousands of years, on the side.

[Photo: Courtesy Bilquis]

Dallas-based Bilquis was co-created in 2013 by local dentist Hana Worede, who became a “wine-preneur” after completing work in her country of descent, Ethiopia. Recently, the brand has experienced a surge, expanding beyond Dallas to Fort Worth, Arlington, Houston, Austin, and San Antonio.

“I started this company a little over five years ago where my inspiration stemmed from a missionary trip I had taken upon graduation from dental school, where as a practicing dentist I worked in several clinics and was exposed to what was truly lacking in my country,” Worede told Dallas Innovates. “Upon my return, I decided to start this company with hopes of having the means to give back.”

Because Ethiopian culture values generosity over all else, Bilquis intends to fuel innovation for the good of its communities. With every purchase, a portion is donated to support charitable organizations focused on economic development, accessible clean water, and education in Ethiopia.

And, because Worede wanted a product that both looked and did good, she worked with Dallas’ The Richards Group to create the golden bottle design.

“In creating Bilquis, I have an opportunity to not only share this special cultural gift with the world but to also do good beyond the glass-sharing, selfless, open-handed, and giving spirit of my culture,” 
Hana Worede

“Most people are drawn to the label first and are very curious to know more about the product,” Worede says. “Once they hear the story behind the label most become captivated. The icing on the cake is when they try the wine and they love it.”

Bilquis is an authentic brand of Tej, an Ethiopian honey wine that Worede describes as “approachable”—not too sweet, and a little dry on the end. She says connoisseurs will be able to taste the subtly of honey accompanied by a bright and refreshing floral flavor.

But Bilquis is more than just a boozy taste-bud tickle. Each bottle symbolizes ancient Ethiopian heritage, as the rich drink actually dates back centuries.

‘A story as old as Ethiopia’

Bilquis says the origin story goes a little something like this: Three thousand years ago, the Ethiopian Queen of Sheba admired the glory of the Israeli King Solomon, and made the miles-long trek to captivate his affection. The two later ended up having a son, Menelik 1, who went on to be Ethiopia’s first King.

And at the center of the celebration toasting the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon?

According to tradition, it was the same golden drink that Bilquis bottles—Tej.

The golden wine label was created with Dallas-headquartered The Richards Group. [Photo: Courtesy Bilquis]

The Bilquis team markets the drink as more than just a wine, as it’s “a story as old as Ethiopia.” Bilquis’s version of the honey wine—which is said to be one of the oldest alcoholic beverages—is modernized, but introduces itself as authentic Ethiopian. The brand suggests serving the wine chilled or pairing it with citrus, bubbly, bitters, spice, beer, or tea.

Across Dallas, Bilquis wine retails in select locations of Spec’s Wine, Spirits & Finer Foods, and is offered at Queen of Sheba, Desta, Proof + Pantry, MarRosso Café, Chocolate Secrets, and Shebelle Ethiopian Cuisine and Bar. But, Worede’s current goal is to expand around the world.

“In creating Bilquis, I have an opportunity to not only share this special cultural gift with the world but to also do good beyond the glass-sharing, selfless, open-handed, and giving spirit of my culture,” Worede says. “I see this product being available across the globe at retail stores, restaurants, hotels, etc. But most importantly having a positive impact, with a portion of the purchase price of every bottle supporting charitable organizations in Ethiopia.”

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