Chokecherry Wine

Another Goodie from the Past!

Getting wine from your own backyard is rewarding and satisfying. Whether you have apple trees or rose bushes in your backyard you can get great satisfaction out of turning the plantings into a refreshing wine you can truly call your own. The internet is a great place to search for recipes about turning just about anything you can grow into wine. You will need a few basic things in order to keep things hygienic and safe. To start with a clean food grade plastic bucket to be used as a primary fermentor and a glass or plastic carboy to move the wine into once the fermentation has slowed down a bit. I have found some basic food strainers and bowls of various sizes useful at different stages of producing my garden wines. The important thing is ensuring anything the wine comes in contact with is sanitized with bleach or a chlorine based detergent.

They say that: patience is a virtue, and when it comes to making garden wines this couldn’t be truer. Let me give you an example of how true it is; in August, 2004 I picked about five pounds of Choke Cherries from a small tree at the end of my driveway which then produced 11 bottles of wine that I bottled in November 2004. I thought that I would try a bottle the following year around Canada Day and could hardly get it past my lips! To say it was a bit too soon is an understatement. Then at Christmas time in 2005 I brought a bottle to my father-in-law in Powassan, we opened it and I found it a bit better then before but I could not enjoy is because I had to drive home later on that night. At least that bottle didn’t get poured down the drain; my father-in-law was not one to ever let something go to waste. After that about every year or so I would build up the courage to try another bottle and it seemed to be getting better and better each time, I think once we poured one bottle into the roasting pan to help us cook a roast.

Why I ever wanted to attempt to make another batch of Choke Cherry wine is beyond me, perhaps writing these blogs for the Deep River Horticultural Society has encouraged me to give it a try. This week I found the Choke Cherries at the end of my driveway were ripe and juicy, ready for the picking and so I did. The recipe I decided to use called for ten pounds of cherries for five gallons of wine, again I got about five pounds from my tree and scoured around town to find another two and a half pounds. I think I left about five pounds on my tree that were a bit out of my reach but I know of a couple of people who have fallen out of trees or off of their ladders and I didn’t want to end up a statistic. For safety I decided I would have to make do with just seven and a half pounds.

Now here’s were my past experiments came into play, I know what the results were the last time and so this time I have an opportunity to try and improve the recipe. The other two main ingredients for my choke cherry wine were sugar & raisins. Since I was two and a half pound short on the choke cherries this year I decided to alter the quantities, heck I even decided to modify the ingredients. I used five pounds of raisins and added two and a half pounds of craisins, otherwise known as dried cranberries. I dropped the ten pounds of sugar needed down to eight pounds and then added one litre of white grape concentrate and one litre of red grape concentrate to get the right starting specific gravity (1.090).

I placed the choke cherries into a muslin bag so that they can be removed when the SG gets down to 1.030. If all go’s well I should be filtering and bottling this wine around November 1st 2011. This year I am also expecting to produce about thirty bottles, enough to enjoy once it has matured to perfection in about five or six years.

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