Sponsored Content

The Sweet Success of B.C.’s Fruit Wine Industry

B.C.’s fruit wine industry is reaping the benefits of quality produce and knowledgeable growers

In the late eighties or nineties, chances are if you drank a fruit wine it was a homemade brew that tasted overly sweet and syrupy. However, within the last decade not only has the craft of producing fruit wine been refined, but in many cases, fruit winemakers are making some of the most innovative and interesting wines that taste much like grape wines.
“The industry is producing excellent fruit-forward, crisp, clean and bold wines,” says Doug Bell, owner of Northern Lights Estate Winery. “Across the province we have 30 fruit wine growers dedicated to offering really good fruit wines that can stand up to grape wines.”
Bell believes the five per cent market share the industry currently enjoys can reach 10 per cent in the near future, just as long it can overcome the image battle facing fruit wine producers. The issue is many wine lovers equate fruit wines with being “homemade” implying a lower quality product. By creating a quality product and educating consumers about fruit wines, Bell says, wineries can change those perceptions and gain market share—and it is happening.
Across B.C., consumers are increasingly buying and enjoying fruit wines made from a variety of sources, including apples, currants, strawberries, raspberries, peaches, pears, apricots, blackberries, blueberries and rhubarb. Most fruit wineries are small family businesses that either grow their own crops or source their produce locally.
“The fruit wine industry in B.C. primarily grew out of a need for individual orchard owners to find added value for their crops,” says Bell. “By blending fruits, we are producing unique and complex flavours. We take the most positive traits from each fruit and 
balance the tannins, acidity and sweetness factors.”
Similar to grape wines, the fruit wine industry is seeing new winemaking techniques emerge, which are coming from experienced European and Canadian winemakers.
“One of the significant players in fruit wines is Dominic Rivard (an internationally renowned and award-winning wine master specializing in fruit wines), who has written books about wines made from fruits, dandelions and rhubarb for example,” says Bell.
With more people, like Rivard, talking about fruit wines and what they bring to the table, Bell is very optimistic about the future of the underappreciated—and often misunderstood—industry. “There is so much potential for fruit wines here because we are seeing stronger acceptance,” he says. “In fact, there are a growing number of grape winemakers who are moving into the fruit wines. I forecast that we will someday see fruit wines alongside grape wines on shelves in liquor stores across the province.”