Interview with Wildberry Fruit Wines of Wai, India



America in a Bottle of Fruit Wine

A hot sunny long weekend, a fourth of July weekend at that. What better way to enjoy it than with great friends and some ice cold American fruit wines?

Quality fruit wines are made in every corner of America; so there is no excuse not to taste and enjoy some over the weekend. Fruit wines are a true expression of the bounty of what we find in this country and its not only attributed to grapes!

Here is my list of great fruit wines found in many parts of the US that would make this weekend that much more special.

Florida Schnebly Winery Florida Passion Fruit Wine

For tropical fruit wine fans, this is a great crowd pleaser. Has great passion fruit aroma and delicate finish. Its smooth and refreshing. I would have it ice cold.

Pennsylvania Oak Spring Winery Peach Wine

Oak Spring’s Peach wine has been awarded many medals including “Best of Show” in Pennsylvania fruit wines. The wine is made from peaches that have been crushes and pressed to release their juice. We make the wine as sweet as the original juice. It is crisp and fruity as well as sweet. Serve this wine ice cold to bring out the peach aromas. It would be great with any light deserts and mild cheeses.

Vermont Boyden Valley Winery Blueberry

This blueberry Wine is made from low bush Vermont blueberries in a process just like a fine red wine. The result is a remarkable semi-sweet, full bodied after dinner wine that is much like a Port. A perfect complement to a variety of desserts, and, just for some added fun, comes in a in a unique cobalt blue collectors bottle, yumm!

Michigan Black Star Winery Cherry Wine

The state is very well known for its cherries. This is a fine example. They produce cherry wine in a ripe, fruity, semi-dry blush style. Made from a combination of cherry varieties that are both estate-grown and harvested from neighboring orchards, this wine is enjoyable as an aperitif, a luncheon wine, or with fresh seasonal fruits.

South Dakota Prairie Berry Winery Red Ass Rhubarb

This very popular winery makes a “kick ass” rhubarb wine. I had it recently at a wine show in Pennsylvania where it was featured and I was really impressed what can come out of the prairie states! Huge aroma and a finish that never seems to end!

California Casa de Fruta Pomegranate Wine

California doesn’t just make grape wines. Its fruit wines are really starting to get known and enjoyed all over the US and abroad. This soft, sweet, smooth tasting, gourmet dessert wine with a hint of tartness. Pomegranates are grown in their Madera, California orchard.

Texas Bruno & George Winery Strawberry Wine

It is deliciously perfumed with pure, sweet strawberry fruit. It is crisply balanced and super flavorful. Light and lively in the mouth with medium sweetness, the intense but balanced strawberry fruit makes it a lovely aperitif wine.

This is a fraction of the great wines available throughout the US. Go out there, enjoy the weekend and festivities. Just make sure you have some great American fruit wine with you to make it that much more special.


Talking Chile and Fruit Wine on Blog Talk Radio

I was a guest today on “Stu the Wine Guru’s” Blog Talk Radio along with a good friend of mine from Chile where we are making fruit wines for some export markets.

An interesting show so listen in. Enjoy!

Listen to internet radio with Stu The Wine Guru on Blog Talk Radio

Quick Intro to the Fruit Wine World

A great introduction to the world and history of fruit wines by Linda Moran, host of the nationally syndicated Vine to Wine program. She really knows her stuff and hearing her talk about fruit wines is telling me that they are starting to be seen as a growing sector of the wine world and encouraging more people to try them.

Her report can be heard here: FRUIT WINE REPORT BY LINDA MORAN

For those of you without speakers on your computer, the text version is here:

Welcome to Vine to Wine this is your host Linda Moran.

Recently I met a man who makes fruit wine, meaning wine made from fruit other than vinifera grapes, which are the grapes grown specifically to make wine.

I’m not at all certain how fermented grape juice gained the title of wine but today we are going to talk about fruit wine.

The history of turning fruit into wine is a long one. The part of the world that includes the Black and Caspian Seas along with the northern parts of what is today Iraq and Iran, is where scientists think fruit was first domesticated and along with that, where the first wine was made. Ancient pottery discovered with traces of tartaric acid, a common wine residue, are a dead give away that in about 8500 BC places like Turkey were already producing wine.

Here we sit over 10,000 years later and domestic fruits and berries of all sorts are being grown throughout the planet. The fruit wine industry, although just less than four percent of the overall production of wine, has become more sophisticated and is growing annually.

The cider business is an excellent example of how stylish and urbane an old fashion beverage can become.

Many of the berry wines from Oregon and the northeast of the U.S. are quite tasty, so why not give them a chance this summer? And thank you for joining me on today’s Vine to Wine.

First winery in Franklin County, Virginia comes to fruition

Jared Soares The Roanoke Times

Article by Janelle Rucker of the Roanoke Times:

For 12 years, H.T. and Rhonda Page enjoyed making wine for themselves and friends in the basement of their home.

On Saturday, after almost two years running their small business, the couple served up their fruit wines at their Brooks Mill Winery and in Westlake.

“I’m not a wine connoisseur or anything, but it’s good,” Smith Mountain Lake resident Martha Montgomery said after she bought a bottle of blueberry table wine. “It’s nice to have this here.”

In 2008, the Pages decided to turn their hobby into a business and became Franklin County’s first winery. Last year, the couple produced more than 3,500 bottles of wine including their award-winning blueberry and blackberry table wines.

Wine production is a growing industry in the state, said Annette Boyd, director of the Virginia Wine Board Marketing Office. Boyd estimates that 12 to 15 new wineries pop up around the state every year.

And for Franklin County — whose natives are proud of its history with homemade whiskey — homemade wine is making an appearance as a viable — and legal — industry.

Other than Brooks Mill Winery, plans for another winery are developing in the Callaway area, said Debra Weir, Franklin County tourism and special events manager.

Webster C. Hall Vineyards off Dillons Mill Road is in the process of applying for its farm winery license. Developers for the project could not be reached for comment.

Established wineries have been in operation for decades around Franklin County. Bedford County has five wineries, all a part of the Bedford Wine Trail. A few can be found in Roanoke and Floyd counties as well, according to the Virginia Wine Board Marketing Office.

“A lot are popping up in Northern Virginia and in Southern Virginia, in old tobacco country,” Boyd said.

Franklin County farmers have provided grapes for surrounding wineries, Weir said.

“We don’t have tons of wineries, but we do sell grapes,” she said. “We just haven’t gotten into the winery business.”

Wineries that specialize in fruit wines are rare in the state, said Rhonda Page, so it’s a focus that they’ll stick to. Growing grapes is not something they’ll do.

“That’s a full-time job,” she said, and both she and her husband work during the day.

Rhonda Page works part time at the Member One credit union office in Rocky Mount, and her husband is a golf course superintendent for The Willard Companies.

Brooks Mill Winery sits back off the road to which it owes its name. A small flag encouraging passers-by to “Wine a bit, you’ll feel better” marks the entrance to the driveway. At the end of the drive sits the Pages’ house, a garage built to house the tasting and production rooms, and acres of fruit trees.

Blueberries, blackberries, peaches, pears and plums are spread across 5 acres, Rhonda Page said.

“It’s a good bargain,” said David Simmons of Roanoke when he stopped by Saturday to pick up a few bottles of sweet blackberry wine.

It’s the affordability of the wine, ranging from $10 to $13 a bottle, that has kept business going through the tough economic times, H.T. Page said.

While the couple said they have their hands full with the size of the current operation, if business continues to grow, there is the option to retire and cut down the pine trees surrounding the driveway to make way for more fruit plants and trees.

Producing and selling wines fits nicely with the agricultural character of the mostly rural county, Weir said.

The county is known for its textile and manufacturing industries as much as for its moonshine history, and county officials are looking for new industries and tourism opportunities.

Brooks Mill Winery will be a part of ‘Round the Mountain, a new artisan trail that Weir’s office is developing in the county. Along with Homestead Creamery and area artists with studios in their homes, the county is trying to “tie in our local artists and our agriculture, which is so unique to our area,” Weir said.

Franklin and parts of Bedford, Carroll and Patrick counties have a climate and topography beneficial for vineyards and wineries, said Tony Wolf, director and professor of viticulture at Virginia Tech.

Producing the best grapes and fruit for wines is essential to the success of any winemaking operation, and the Virginia Cooperative Extension office offers short courses and other resources for those interested in starting a winery, Wolf said.

Collaborating with other agencies, wineries and local events is something the Pages value.

“If we all work together, the better the wine, and it builds the area’s reputation. Everyone benefits,” H.T. Page said. While researching his new business venture, Page said he received advice from other wineries, including Hill Top Berry Farm and Winery in Nelson County, which he considered the inspiration for his own operation.

Fruit Wine Research in India

Shrikant Magar - winemaker

Every once in a while, I meet a person truly passionate about winemaking. That is someone that seems to be talking about wine, making it or drinking in all the time. Someone intimately involved in product development and refining wines of all types. They do it, not because they are getting paid for it (which of course is always a bonus) but because of the love of wine. One of these people is Mr. Shrikant Magar of Nashik, India.

Now, Nashik is known in India as wine HQ. I have been there on several occasions and it is a truly beautiful area which huge winemaking potential. While mostly grapes grow in the region, plenty of quality fruit also does and really nice and interesting fruit grows throughout India. There is a lot of research and development being done in the region and wines from India are increasing in quality very fast.

Shrikant who is involved in the industry has started an ambitious project of refining homemade fruit wine recipes. This will be useful to wine lovers throughout India and elsewhere and show that great wines can also be made with other fruits aside from grapes.

A brief excerpt of the project on making wines from fruits available in India such as pomegranate, papaya, strawberry and sapota is viewable here:

Indian Home Fruit Wine Making

He can also be contacted through me or directly for anyone needing assistance with his or her home made or commercial wine.

I feel that the potential of fruit wines in India to be immense and people like Shrikant will make this happen. This is a guy to keep an eye on, as he will become an important part of the Indian wine industry.

Anyone out there who has an experience to share in regards to fruit wines, let me know! I would love to feature you, your project or experience to fruit wine lovers worldwide.

Tropical fruit wines aim for big bucks

A fruit winery in the Philippines is aiming big and about to hit to world with their tropical fruit wines.

An interesting article by Paul Icamina.

TAGAYTAY – Tropical fruit wines are aiming for big bucks.

Starting this summer, two container vans of fruit wines will be market-tested in four Los Angeles outlets of Costco, one of America’s largest chain retail stores with 170 branches.

Each container van carries 12,000 bottles. Before that, one container van was shipped each month by Tropical Fruit Winery Corp.

When all’s well, a US group will finance an industrial-scale winery, the first in the country, to rise in a two-hectare lot in San Pablo, Laguna.

“The P100-million winery may be Asia’s biggest,” said Elbert S. Pigtain, Tropical Fruit Winery CEO who is in final negotiations with the Americans. “The target is to supply all Costco outlets.”

Costco is the largest membership warehouse club chain and the third largest retailer in the United States. It is the ninth largest retailer and the largest retailer of fine wines in the world.

Raw material is a problem but not insurmountable, Pigtain told Malaya Business Insight here on the sidelines of a National Economic Development Authority meeting where regional officials came to hear about the country’s budding industries.

The calumpit fruit, for example, is now rare in Bulacan. There are ways to source the fruits, like encouraging Aetas in Zambales and Mt. Pinatubo to gather bignay fruits instead of cutting them down traditionally for charcoal and fuel wood.

“If there’s a demand, people will plant and conserve the fruits. It can generate employment and create entrepreneurs,” he said.

One of the country’s major wine makers, Pigtain had his biggest sales of about P5 million in 2007, going down after that because of the global crunch. He is optimistic of an upturn, with 60 percent of his wines exported and yet to penetrate other markets.

“I’m now experimenting with sparkling fruit wine and liqueur,” he said, adding the local market is concentrated in Metro Manila, mostly in supermarkets, peaking during Christmas as high-end gifts.

The competition is stiff. Decent imported wines may cost less than P200, the average price of local fruit wines. “That’s because our production cost is too high, packaging materials are limited, starting with containers because we only have two bottle manufacturers and we compete with their products.”

North America and Europe also slap stiff tariffs “because wine is their bread and butter,” he explained. “We should do the same for imported wines.”

To illustrate, duhat is expensive to produce because it ripens in just two weeks. One has to wait for the next year’s harvest to replenish stocks while current raw materials are put in cold storage. “Then you never know if a typhoon will hit next season’s duhat harvest,” Pigtain said.

While mango is harvested year-round, duhat and bignay are seasonal and ripen fast. Fermentation is short, mellowing and clarifying is long – about a year and two months for mango.

“You can’t and shouldn’t compete with grape wine,” said Dr. Alexander Madrigal, Department of Science and Technology director for Southern Luzon, which has the country’s largest concentration of tropical fruit wine makers, dominated by lambanog from coconut.

“One should find a niche market,” said Madrigal who is encouraging the region’s wine makers to go big time.

“Mango wine is premium because we grow the most delicious in the world,” he said. “Because our fruits are sweet, they tend to be on the sweet side; we need to develop dry wines.”

“The industry is growing,” Madrigal said, noting a significant increase in the entry in the last five years of cheaper spirits, including fruit and rice wines, from Australia, China, Chile, Japan and South Korea.

For tropical fruit wines, the market has proven that duhat and bignay are the most competitive, he added.

“I’m not competing with grapes because our products are different,” Pigtain said. “The beauty of local fruits is that each has its health benefits. Duhat is said to cure diabetes, bignay has anti-bacterial properties and brings down high blood pressure.”

Pigtain started small, as a blender in a fish sauce and vinegar factory; in 2004, he started his own winery in San Mateo, Rizal, producing 200 bottles a month.

He uses common bottle stocks, playing with labels instead of standard packaging. “We have to get away from traditional designs, putting photos up front with short descriptions of the fruits foreign consumers may not be familiar with.”

“Doing wine is not easy,” Pigtain said. “If you ask me, I won’t do it again. It is more a passion than a business.”

“You have to do it blindfolded,” he said. “Else if you look back at the expenses you won’t do it again.”