Our understanding is that the term fruit wine is used to identify any alcoholic beverage made by fermenting fruits other than grapes, whereas the term wine is reserved for alcoholic beverages made by fermenting only grapes. It is also our understanding that good wines are usually made without the addition of any sugar or other sweetener beyond the natural sugars in the grapes. By contrast, fruit wines require the addition of at least some sugar as most fruits do not contain enough natural sugar to produce the nominal 12% alcohol level generally associated with wine.
LEELANAU PENINSULA, MICHIGAN
Although “Northern Michigan”, specifically the Leelanau Peninsula and Old Mission Peninsulas, is producing some outstanding white and red wines, the area was originally known for its cherries and cherry-based products, including cherry wines and ports. Cherry-based products continue to be available, some of very high quality, and there are other fruit wines being made in this region as well. Besides the fruit wines described below, one of Bruce’s favorite non-grape beverages from this region is a cherry port from Old Mission Peninsula, described on the Ports & Sherries page.
Pear Wine (Black Star Farms) – If you want a wine that has a distinctly pear character, stop searching for a grape wine that tastes like it was made from something else, and get this one. It is a well-crafted product; clearly pear and slightly sweet, but not overly so, and with a nice finish. They have a limited quantity of bottles with actual pears grown inside if you want to pay for that.
We discovered Forestedge Winery near LaPorte, Minnesota on our way back from our trip to Wyoming in the summer of 2013. Owned and operated by Paul and Sharon Shuster, Forestedge offers 14 different non-grape wines. Their fruit wines are made exclusively with fruits grown in MInnesota, and the rhubarb is grown right on their property. We didn’t buy one of everything, but we bought one each of most of what they sell. Of particular note, however, is their:
- Black Currant (Forestedge Winery)
THE BLACK HILLS, SOUTH DAKOTA
As you drive west across South Dakota on I-90 you can’t miss the billboards for The Prairie Berry Winery and their Red Ass Wine (it has a red burrow on the label). As we planned to be in the Black Hills area for a few days, we figured we would locate to find the winery and try the wine, just for the fun of it. As it turned out, we stumbled upon the winery enroute to Mt. Rushmore and discovered that it was a very nice place with a very nice assortment of well-crafted wines. We did not do a lot of tasting as we were waiting at the door when it opened at 10 AM and had a lot of mountain driving ahead of us. We did try and buy the following:
- Red Ass Wine (Prairie Berry Winery) – We liked the Red Ass Wine well enough to buy a bottle, although we admit that it was also partly the novelty of the name.
- Lawrence Elk (Prairie Berry Winery) – The names suggest a certain playfulness on the part of the winery, but they are serious about their wine-making. Lawrence Elk is a black currant wine that we found very much to our taste.