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Grape and Wine Conference

Development and marketing of fruit wines, honey wines and ciders were the topics of a workshop at the B.C. Grape Council conference in Penticton. Workshop leaders were, from left, Sara Harker of Rustic Roots Winery, Judie Barta of Meadow Vista Honey Wines, Miranda Halladay of Elephant Island Orchard Wines, Sandra Bullock of Raven Ridge Cidery and Anna Manola of Silver Sage Winery.

SUSAN MCIVER On the road to respect

Fruit wines and ciders have come a long way toward convincing consumers that they’re a lotmore than ‘girly drinks.’

By Susan McIver F

ruit wines, honey wines and ciders hold promise for producers, but much work is needed to maximize

their potential.

That is according to five participants in a workshop held during this summer’s enology and viticulture conference in Penticton.

All three fruit wine producers and the honey wine producer agreed public education is essential for success. “Many middle age and older people have bad memories of fruit wine their grandfather made in the basement. It’s important to give them the opportunity to learn how excellent today’s wines are,” said Anna Manola of Silver Sage Winery in Oliver.

Miranda Halladay and her husband, Del, intentionally used the term ‘orchard’ rather than fruit when they


named their Naramata winery Elephant Island Orchard Winery.

“We didn’t use the term ‘fruit wines’ in our name either,” said Sara Harker of Rustic Roots Winery in Cawston. Miranda reported that many of the visitors to their wine shop are younger urbanites who are keenly interested in both food and wine.

Harker has observed that women are more open to trying fruit wines than are men.

Men often think fruit wine is a sweet ‘girly’ drink until the women in their lives convince them to try a taste. “It takes a big man to drink pink bubbles” is the line Miranda uses to sell her pink sparkling wine to men. Curiosity is often the reason customers stop at Meadow Vista Honey Wines in West Kelowna.

However, owner Judie Barta is finding that an increasing number of people are appreciating the finer qualities of her product.

“Some people are becoming specialists in apiaries just like some do with terroirs,” she said.

Barta uses the term honey wine rather than mead to help dispel the medieval image of her product.

“I’m more interested in having an eco- food-fun image,” she said.

Sandra Bullock of Kelowna’s Raven Ridge Cidery said she does not have to

British Columbia FRUIT GROWER • Fall 2011

overcome any negative images of cider. “That’s why we called the business a cidery not a winery,” she said. Bullock has observed that her Asian customers, mainly tourists, usually prefer sweeter ciders, while most Caucasians like drier ciders.

The health benefits of fruit wines hold considerable marketing potential. “I remember a study out of the University of Guelph that showed the health benefits of fruit wines to be markedly higher than of grape wines,” Halladay said.

She mentioned that fruit wines contain significantly lower amounts of histamines, which are among the chemicals that often cause adverse reactions to red wines.

In Asian cultures, many medicines are based on fruit, as illustrated by the importance of cherries in traditional Chinese medicine.

The perceived health benefits were important in the success of Silver Sage’s blueberry wine in parts of Asia. “There needs to be more research so we have the proper back-up information when promoting the health benefits of fruit wines,” Halladay said.

She, along with Harker and Manola, agreed there is a need for competitions specifically for fruit wines.

A current difficulty is that grape wine judges are not competent to evaluate

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