Fruit (non-grape) wine, understandably misunderstood in New England

Posted 06/27/14


New England can be a confusing place when it comes to wine. As wine regions go, we are like an infant taking their first steps or uttering their first words. We have a lot of growing up to do. In this confusion, fruit wine, or non-grape wine, takes center stage.

With wineries popping up throughout New England like wild flowers in Spring, a place not really known for their wine grapes, fruit wine is in abundance. If you have ever toured a New England wine trail, you have no doubt discovered many interesting concoctions, and if your experience is anything like mine, most of them have been sweet.

Don’t get me wrong, more traditional grape wines are to be found in New England (often sweet as well) and in greater numbers every year, but other fruits play a much bigger role in this part of the world than in other wine regions. And maybe this is as it should be; New England is home to an abundance of wonderful fruit that thrives in our climate with little assistance from us.

At Hermit Woods Winery, we have found that using old-school wine making techniques combined with some new approaches in wine making and blending, we can produce non-grape wines that satisfy even the most hardened grape wine enthusiasts.

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We have also found, contrary to what many fruit wine makers will tell you, well made fruit wine has the potential to improve with age. We are developing an ever-increasing library of wines that go back several years and are achieving outstanding results.

Sadly, the lack of understanding of non-grape wine is why so many of our wine-loving customers do an about face and make a beeline for the door when they see that our wine list is made up largely of fruit and honey wines. As someone who has had the pleasure of sampling and enjoying wines from many more famous wine regions of the world, I can’t say that I blame them. My only hope is that I get to the door before them and that they give me two minutes to help dispel their biases before they leave.

All of us at Hermit Woods Winery appreciate a great California or French wine as much as anyone. The bar has been set for what a great wine is for hundreds of years and it is our challenge to continue in that tradition using non-traditional fruit.

Gone are the days when the only fruit wines available are syrupy sweet and hearken back to the glory days of Boone’s Farm wines. However, we still have much work to do to change that mind set, it’s been around a long time!