Fortifying Fruit Wines: Tips from the Pros

With the popularity of Ports, Madeira, Sherry, and even vermouth, fortified grape wines seem to get all the attention. But country fruit winemakers can get in on the fun as well. There are many ways to fortify a fruit wine, but careful consideration should be made about when and how to fortify. Here are some pointers from two commercial fortified winemakers for those looking to shore up their fruit wine. Winemaker: Brian Hosmer, Chateau Chantal Winery, Hawthorne Vineyards, and 1855 Project, Old Mission Peninsula, Michigan. Here in the Traverse region of Michigan, we have a unique inland microclimate because of Lake Michigan, which buffers us from temperature extremes. This allows us to grow both cherries and vinifera grapes — we’re known as the Cherry Capital of the World — on our property.  In the springtime, the lake waters are still cool, which helps delay budbreak. By the time budbreak actually occurs, the normal chance of frost has passed . . . usually. In the fall the opposite happens where the water is warm and radiates that latent heat, giving us