A FINE TOMATO WINE
This gives new meaning to “red” wine. Quebec-based farmer Pascal Miche is enjoying thriving sales of his Omerto tomato wine in Canada, crafted from a secret family recipe. Yes, that’s tomato wine. Since launching in the Canadian market two years ago, the former butcher has sold over 65,OOO bottles of wine made from the same fruit we make ketchup with. Miche makes the wine from 62OO tomato plants on his vineyard. “I wanted to finish what my great-grandfather had started in Belgium in the ’3Os,” he said. Miche immigrated to Quebec from Belgium seven years ago and started planting red, yellow and black tomatoes in 2OO9. The crop set to ripen by mid-August will be his third harvest, with the journey from field to bottle taking around nine months. Before making his first batch, Miche tested 16 varieties of tomatoes in order to find six that grew well in Quebec’s cool climate. Similar to traditional winemaking, the tomatoes undergo the same process of crushing, soaking, fermenting and pressing. The result is Omerto Sec, a clear, dry, 18% ABV wine, and Omerto Moelleux, a sweeter wine that has been compared to French aperitif Pineau des Charentes, both of which are named after Miche’s great-grandfather Omer. According to Miche, there is no trace of tomato in the wine, not even in the taste.
Miche can legally call his product wine in North America, but will have to rename it if he starts exporting it to France, where only alcoholic beverages made from fermented grape juice can be called wine. The wines are currently only available in Quebec and Manitoba although Miche is seeking distribution in the US, France, Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands.