Book Review: The Ultimate Fruit Winemaker’s Guide

April 1, 2011

The Ultimate Fruit Winemaker’s Guide: The complete Reference Manual for All Fruit Winemakers, written by Dominic Rivard in 2009, has a bit of an editing problem. First off, the title is misleading, as this is not a how-to book for making fruit wine. What it is is more of a guide to help start up a fruit winery. Secondly, it is a bit painful to read as there are rouge periods, paragraphs that got split up mid-sentence, and issue with capitalizing letters.

Rivard was born in Quebec, but did study for a time at UC Davis in California. I mention this because I’m not really sure who the target audience for this book is: Canadians, or Americans? I’m not referring to the use of metric, as must laboratory work and even bottling is done in mL, but there are times I wonder if Rivard is more familiar with the Canadian government wine system and tries to fudge it over on to the US system because we are potentially a bigger market to sell his book to. I have some issues with trusting this book and I’m suspicious of it quite often. One example is that it says to add 200 parts per million (ppm) sulfites to orange wine to help keep it stable and from turning brown. Peter Mitchell, the instructor of my cider class, said that the European Union only tolerated 200 ppm of sulfites in wine as being safe, which is the strictest level of any government. Therefore, it makes me a little nervous to be so close. Maybe the European Union is too strict, but in this day an age where so many people are attracted to a “No Sulfites Added” label, I can’t help but think that high of an addition is not right. It is things like this that make me question a lot of this book.

That’s not to say that the whole book is bad.  It has great checklists for things to think about, detailed descriptions of equipment including different models, some recipes to get a winery started, wine market analysis, and a bang up appendix with estimated equipment costs and lots of further reading. There are other little gems to be mined out if you are patient, such as:

  • One ton for fruit equals approximately 220 US gallons of crushed fruit (tank space).
  • One ton of pressed fruit is approximately 130-180 gallons of liquid, depending on the type of fruit and type of press.
  • One pallet of bottles equals 133 US gallons of wine.

So, if you are thinking about buying this book, only do it if you want to get serious about making wine at home at a larger scale or if you want to open a winery, and only buy it if you can overlook editing problems and can see if for its guidance but not follow too blindly.

Free Preview of the book.

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