If it grows from the ground, the chances are Bec Bannan from Sarina in north Queensland has tried to make wine out of it. 

Her passion started one Christmas when she wanted to find a solution to the overripe mangoes slowly rotting under the trees in her backyard.

“The horses love eating them, the cattle love eating them, the kangaroos eat them, but there’s really only so much you can eat.”

A bunch of green mangoes hang on a tree.

Mango wine is one of the many types of fruit wine Ms Bannan is experimenting with.(ABC Rural: Melanie Groves)

How to make wine without grapes

Fruit, vegetable or herb, Ms Bannan said you could make wine out of virtually anything by fermenting it. 

Her set-up is in the shed near her mango trees, with the bottling done in a commercial-grade kitchen. 

Rather than storing in oak barrels, her alternative wines are placed in food-grade plastic drums.

“It’s difficult to handle [oak]. They’re really difficult to clean because, with fruit wine, we get a lot of sediment.”

Unlike grape wine, juice for fruit wines must be mixed with water and sugar before adding yeast to ensure a palatable drink.

When life gives you lemons … make wine?

Since first experimenting with making wines, Ms Bannan has trialled just about anything she finds in abundance: mango, pomegranate, star fruit, guava, pineapple, and mandarin have all been turned into wine. She has also tried some stranger options, such as spearmint, as well as basil, and chilli wine. 

A hand holding green pomegranates growing on a tree.

These pomegranates will soon be turned into wine.(ABC Rural: Melanie Groves)

“The chilli wine, it doesn’t burn your ring out. It’s not ridiculous,” Ms Bannan said. 

“You could drink it and think, ‘there’s no chilli in this’, but then click, there’s the hit.”

“It’s a gentle after-burn.”

But not every wine has been a winner. 

“We’ve done pumpkin wine, we’ve done carrot wine, neither of which I was a great fans of. I don’t know if I’d bother with either of those again,” she said. 

But if you ask Ms Bannan if she’s going to be the next big brand in wine making, she will set you straight. 

“There are all sorts of licensing. You have to pay for all your inspections, water testing, stickers, lids.”

Not that she minds it being a passion project, at this stage. 

“I’m ok with it, I get wine out of it.

“I’ve got teenage kids, but I’ve got wine so I’m good.” 

A bottle of yellow fruit wine on a bar with a hand cupping a wine glass.

Ms Bannan has been selling her fruit wine through wine tastings since COVID-19 restrictions put a halt to selling at local markets.  (ABC Rural: Melanie Groves)

Forget everything you know about wine. Bec has been bottling tropical fruit in her boutique winery
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