Not all wines are made from grapes. In fact, some of the earliest wines were made from honey (mead) and berries. Over the years, grapes have become popular for commercial wineries – but fruits are also made into delicious wines as well. Practically every country of the world, and every state in the US, has at least one winery creating fruit wines.
Nashoba Valley Winery in Massachusetts is well known for its orchards operations, and most of the wines they produce are based on these harvests. Their peach wine has won many awards, as has its blueberry port. One of my favorites is their Amora – a blackberry dessert wine. This is simply scrumptious. Moonshine Valley Winery in Australia is well known for its fruit wines, and Michigan is famous for its fine cherry wines. The list goes on and on.
Fruit winemaking can create delicious wines based on fresh local produce. For example, many wineries in Massachusetts make cranberry wines, because of the large number of cranberry bogs there. True, in some cases, wineries “resort to” fruit wines when grapes cannot grow in the climate – much of New England and the northern US is fruity for this reason. In other cases, though, fruit is a legitimate first choice as winemakers bring out the delicious essence of the natural berries, apples, pears, and other raw materials used. In fact, blackberry and blueberry wines are full of antioxidants and are in some ways more healthy for you than red wines are.
How are fruit wines made? The winemakers use many of the same techniques used on grape wines. At some wineries, a machine first gets rid of the stalks and washes off bugs. Next, some wineries use a crusher of some sort – either spinning or ballooning to separate the juice from the skins (peels, etc.)
The liquid is then put into a fermentation vat, and yeast is sometimes added. The wine then goes through normal fermentation processes. The wineries that allow fermentation to begin with the skin remove the pulp at some stage and finish fermentation on just the liquid.
Fruit wines have a long and respected history. Plum wine has been made in China and Japan for centuries. People from Ireland talk about making plum wine as a typical pasttime. Many people who have fruit trees or berry bushes in their back yard have turned those into wine just as they would make a blueberry pie or apple tart. The process is quick, simple and fun.
If you haven’t tried fruit wines yet, be sure to get to your local orchard and see what they have in store for you!