People will travel far and wide to taste the many wines of the world, but we just have to travel through the sliding door to taste the wines of the backyard.
Over the past three years, I have been fortunate enough to have a little piece of paradise in my own backyard. Although it is relatively small, the benefits are vast. When we moved in three years ago and I found myself surrounded by fruit trees, blackberry, blueberry and raspberry bushes, vegetable gardens and grape vines, I didn’t yet realize how fortunate I was to have so many resources at my fingertips. As I looked on, watching my husband and his green thumb come alive, cultivating the fruit trees and gardens, I began to develop my own appreciation for it all and soon enough I too was out there digging in the dirt (pretty pink garden gloves of course), getting educated in the art of gardening.
After the first year of tending to the garden we decided to try using the grapes to make a batch of wine because that’s what you do with grapes, right? While neither of us claimed to be a wine connoisseur,by any means – that much we knew! After a talk with the local wine brew shop, we learned how to tell when the grapes were just ripe enough and that we needed 30 pounds for one batch. Once you pick the grapes you take them in the same day to be crushed, pressed and begin the fermenting process. For that first batch we didn’t quite have 30 pounds and the grapes probably could have ripened a little longer; nonetheless, we were happy with the result and felt a sense of pride that it came from our own backyard. This past year we used what we learned from the first batch and were able to get the full 30 pounds of grapes that we let mature longer and were even more pleased with the result.
During the grape wine-making experience I realized that I could also utilize all of the other fruit that the backyard had to offer, mainly the blackberries that had overtaken the back corner of the lot. The 30 pound rule applies to fruit wine as well; however, the fruit is picked ripe, then frozen. Throughout the summer, each week I picked as many ripe blackberries as I could, until they had overtaken the freezer. Once the freezer couldn’t hold any more, I picked up a bucket and mix packs from the wine store that I brought home to thaw the blackberries in. I didn’t quite have 30 pounds of blackberries so I threw in some frozen strawberries, blueberries and rhubarb that I discovered at the bottom of the freezer. What a great way to clear out the freezer and make a great tasting fruit wine. After a few days, I took it back to the wine store for pressing and fermenting.
From grapes to blackberries, strawberries, blueberries, rhubarb, plums and even kiwis, making your own fruit wine can be very rewarding and educational. Each batch is different depending on the harvest, and as you learn along the way you can develop the wine to suit your own taste. With each batch comes a sense of pride and accomplishment, knowing that you developed and harvested the fruit yourself to make a great local wine. Plus there is always the health benefits!
April recently left her office job to pursue the greater things in life. She enjoys gardening, music, her pets and being on a lake somewhere.