I’m excited to share a guest blog with you today written by Bob Manley, one of the partners of Hermit Woods Winery, a small boutique winery located in Meredith New Hampshire that makes a “wide variety of traditional and non-traditional wines that are sure to tantalize your taste buds.”
Bob lived in CA for a number of years and has an incredible appreciation for all things wine. He responded to my series on non-grape wines with this wonderful writeup. I hope you enjoy it.
Thank you for opening up the discussion of non-grape wines. Hermit Woods Winery is a producer of a wide variety of grape wines, non-grape wines, and meads, most of which are in the dry style. We are really excited about the ability to create wonderful, complex dry style wines that are reminiscent of the more traditional vitas viniferous wines from around the world using native New England fruit (and vegetables!).
We have found that using old school wine making techniques combined with some new approaches in wine making and blending the right native fruits together, we can produce non-grape wines that satisfy even the most hardened grape wine enthusiasts (if we can ever convince them to try them, not always easy).
Many of our red wines are crafted from blends of oak aged blueberries, blackberries, currants, and other dark fruits found growing wild across the northeast. Many of these wines are put through malolactic fermentation and aged in oak for a couple of years before blending. We have also found the natural tannins can be achieved in some wines by making a tea with the staghorn sumac flower and boiling away the water to concentrate the tannins. A small amount of which gives you a nice soft dry finish to an otherwise less tannic wine without altering the flavor profile. These are just a couple of the unique and creative approaches our wine maker has embarked on to set a new bar in great fruit wines.
We have also found, contrary to what many fruit wine makers will tell you, that some well made fruit wine (non-grape) have the potential to improve with age. We are developing an ever-increasing library of wines that go back several years and are very happy with the way age has improved many of our wines. We look forward to seeing where our wines go in the next five or ten years.
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. As anyone who loves wine knows, flavor is only one of many characteristics that make a great wine; also important are aroma, color, body, mouth feel, complexity, length, finish, etc. This is what we try to embody in every wine we make. Our wines may not be made of grapes, but certainly embody many of the characteristics of our favorite grape wines. When was the last time you watched someone take a sip of a red wine and say “hmmm, did you get the grape in that”?
Gone are the days when the only fruit wines available are syrupy sweet and harken 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!