At Endless Summer Winery in Hermann, Missouri, you won’t find any fermented grapes. Owner and winemaker Gary Hoover prefers to use other fruits, such as pineapples, blackberries, peaches and cherries to make his wine. Hoover even makes wines from pecans, jalapeños and habaneros. He sources as many of his ingredients as he can from Missouri farms, and Endless Summer’s wines have no artificial flavors, colors or juices. The wines, which range from semi-dry to semisweet, are available at the tasting room in Hermann. You can also purchase bottles at 17 retail locations in Missouri (with a possible seven more this year) or through the winery’s website.
What inspired you to make non-grape wines? My background as a fine-dining chef gave me the courage to step out of the box and try more unusual things with wine. I find it fun to experiment and see what I can come up with. I decided to do fruit wines when I was making wine at home as a hobby. At my age, starting and maintaining a vineyard is more work than I want to do. I purchase as much of my fruit as I can from Missouri farmers, instead of growing it myself, because I don’t want to maintain an orchard. It’s also expensive to buy land, fruit trees and equipment.
What’s your favorite wine you’ve made? I really like the new cranberry-tangerine wine that we’ll have out in late 2017 or early 2018. We made a small test batch first to taste. It goes well with pork, turkey and wild game. The pecan-maple wine is another one that stands out for me. It’s layered with Vermont maple syrup [flavor] at the front and the pecan flavor at the finish. It’s a nice after-dinner drink. The price of pecans has gone up, so I don’t know when I’ll make it again – I only have 200 bottles of it left for the year.
What ingredient do you work with the most? The pineapple wine is what people ask for the most, followed by the pecan-maple and the jalapeño. We increased production of the pineapple wine by 100 gallons in 2016, and we’re increasing it by another 150 gallons for 2017. It’s a very versatile wine that’s nice for summer. You can mix it with orange juice or mango juice for a cocktail. It goes well with seafood: On our website, we have a drunken shrimp recipe, which uses the pineapple wine as a marinade.
What can visitors expect when they come to Endless Summer? I don’t charge a fee for my tastings. My wines are so much different than the others you will find in Hermann. People think they’ll be too sweet, but they are pleasantly surprised when they taste them. We try to give good customer service – it’s not a job for us. We enjoy our customers.
Endless Summer Winery, 11 Grosse Lane, Hermann, Missouri, 573.252.2000, endlesssummerwinery.com