Chronicles of the Long Shot Farm

Small Batch Wine Experiments

Over the last couple of weeks, we have been experimenting with some non-grape based wines.  We have always made wines from fruits other than grapes – actually that is how we got started.  Our first wines were blackberry, strawberry, cherry and peach.  But then we concentrated on learning to grow grapes and making grape wine.  We do blend our grape wines with fruit wines for certain blends, for example, our Bow and Arrow is a blend of Chambourcin and Blackberry wine, and our Summer Blend is a blend of Vidal Blanc and Apple wine.  But these current experimental batches are new to us.

Dandelion Wine:
During the first weeks of April, we picked the yellow petals off dandelions.  The recipes we found varied from 2 cups per gallon of water to 1 gallon of petals per gallon of water, and every ratio in between.  We opted for a 1:2 ration, so 8 cups of dandelion petals per gallon of water.  After about three weeks, we had picked  56 cups of petals – enough for a seven gallon trial batch!  We froze the petals right after picking, in small freezer bags marked with the number of cups.

As with any of the blossom wines, you basically make a strong “tea”, to extract the flavors and aromas of the flowers. So we used our large pressure canners to bring about 8 gallons of water to a full boil.  We did not have a large enough container to make this”tea” in, so we used two fermentation buckets from our home-winemaking days.  We did this initial step in our kitchen, not the winery, since we needed a stove.   Each bucket had a finely woven fermentation bag with the 28 cups of pedals, which we covered with 3.5 gallons of boiling water.  We then added the required amount of sugar – which brought the total volume up another half gallon –  and let the mixture steep.  We did measure  Brix, pH and TA and made some slight adjustments.

It smelled very pleasant, a bit like honey – but unlike anything we had ever smelled before.  Once the temperature cooled down to lukewarm, we added chopped yellow raisins, tartaric acid, some grape tannin, yeast nutrient etc. to the fermentation bag with the petals,  and left this sit for a day, before pitching yeast. We had a hard time getting the fermentation started, and it took three tries of different yeast strains, but it finally started a pretty rigorous fermentation.  We are waiting for it to complete, before straining the wine into carboys, and then start the racking regiment.  Seven gallons is not very much wine, considering that one gallon roughly fills 5 standard bottles – or ten 350 ml bottles.

 

Pumpkin Wine:
Last fall, we bought a lot of neck pumpkins, from which we removed the rind, seeds and all stringy matter.  We cut the pumpkin “meat” into cubes and froze them.  Earlier this month, we thawed them out and weighed them – we had 121 lbs.  We added the required amount of water, sugar, acid, tannin etc – as well as a small spice bag.  There were no precise recipes that we could find, so we made our own best guess.  We used two whole nutmegs and 14 allspice berries, which we put in a ziploc bag and smashed slightly with a hammer into course chunks.  We poured this into the spice bag and added 14 smallish cinnamon sticks, as well as chopped raisins.  Then we pitched the yeast, and the fermentation started on schedule.  This batch is fermenting in the winery, which is still rather cool,  so the fermentation is not too violent, but rather progressing at a nice pace.  We hope to rack this off on Memorial Day weekend – likely into 15 gallon demi-johns.  This should make about 35 gallons.

 

Elderberry Wine:
We just bottled 20 gallons of Elderberry wine in small, 350 ml bottles.  It took us two growing seasons to pick enough elderberries from our bushes, which we froze in gallon bags.  Last August, we thawed them out and mixed them with water, sugar and acid to get the correct balance for adding yeast and making wine.  As far as an experiment goes, this one has taken the longest so far!  The wine fermented without any issues, and we followed the same process as we do for all our wines, in regards to testing, racking and aging.  This prurplish red fruit wine has a very unique taste – and we look forward to sharing it.  The bottles still need to rest a bit and they need to be labeled.

We also have several bags of frozen elderberry blossoms that we picked last year, and we hope to get a lot more this year.  Elderberry blossoms make a beautiful white wine – we can’t wait to try it!

Leek Casserole with Rice

Here is one of my favorite leek recipes. Typically, you can find nice leeks in the spring at the local grocery store.

Ingredients for 4 servings:

  • 4 thick leeks  (basically one per person.  If you use thin leeks, then you may want to use 8)
  • 8 slices of Muenster cheese, or another cheese that melts easily
  • 8 slices of ham, the kind that you would use on a sandwich (on the thin side)
  • 8 eggs
  • 1 and 1/3 cup of sour cream
  • 1 cup of milk
  • salt and pepper to taste

For the rice:

  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup of rice per person
  • 2 cups of chicken broth (or 2 and 2/3 cup if using more rice)
  • 2-4 tablespoons of butter
  • one small onion, finely chopped
  • salt to taste

Wash leeks, cut off the bottom hard root end, and cut off where the white stalk changes to green leaves. Check and make sure that there is no dirt on the top end where the leaves start.  Add leeks to a pot of boiling, salted water and boil for about ten minutes.  Remove from water and let drain and cool slightly.

If the leeks were thick, cut them in half. Wrap each piece in a slice of ham, then in a slice of cheese and place in a greased casserole dish.

Beat the eggs thoroughly with a hand mixer or a stand mixer.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Beat in the sour cream and milk until the mixture is smooth and pour over the rolled leeks in the casserole dish. The egg mixture should cover the leeks.  (you can make more, with the same proportions, and add it).

Bake at 400 degree F, approximately 35-40 minutes.  The egg mixture should be firm and golden brown on top.

While the casserole is baking, prepare the rice.  Heat butter in a medium sized pot until hot, then add the chopped onion and heat until glassy looking. Add the rice and stir into the hot mixture until the rice is coated with the butter.  Add the chicken broth and salt if desired.  Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to a slight simmer, cover pot and let the rice cook until all liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender.

 

 

 

Holiday Decorations at the Winery

Our first winter at the Winery started off with decorating for the holidays in mid November.  We used a lot of greenery outside, including swags along our fence posts and a garland around the entrance way.  Left over pine branches were arranged in various containers,  ranging from flower pots to milk crates.  New light stands were wrapped around the grapevine garland along our fence rail so all the lights were brightly shining.

Inside the tasting room we kept decorations simple, since we don’t have very much space.   We hung red Christmas balls on gold ribbons in all our windows, and places battery operated candles (which are covered in actual wax) below.  Some candles were placed in wreaths, others on candleholders or in lanterns.

You may have noticed our arrow above the wine rack, which holds seasonal ornaments.  For the winter we chose a Red Cardinal and we strung a green garland through the top of the wine rack.  The music changed to holiday classics to help spread even more cheer.

Anja made festive bottle ornaments, complete with tags, transforming any of our wines into a perfect holiday gift.

Throughout the weeks leading up to Christmas, Rachel and Samantha were busy organizing various craft and painting activities at the winery.  Some were scheduled classes, others were “drop in” events to make bottle and cork crafts.

                

 

Posted by The Long Shot Farm

Mulled Wine for the Holidays

Mulled wine is one of our favorites during the winter holidays.  There are lots of different ways to make this hot winter drink.  All recipes start off with wine to which mulling spices  are added, and the mixture is slowly heated until the flavors blend.  Some recipes use a mixture of wine and cider (or other juice), while others “spike” their wine with brandy or rum.  Often fruits, such as orange slices or cranberries, are added and some people like to sweeten the mixture a bit.

One of our favorite recipes is the less alcoholic version of wine and juice:

  • 1 bottle of red wine (such as Sweet Mountain Mist)
  • 3 cups of apple cider or apple juice  (or 2 cups of apple juice and 1 cup of cranapple juice)
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick (about 3 inches)

Alternatively, you could substitute two bottles of our Winter Blend wine, which is a blend of Apple wine and Chambourcin wine, and omit the apple cider or juice.

Heat all ingredients in a crock pot – but never let it boil. Start off on the high heat setting until the liquid becomes hot, then turn it to the low or warm setting and let is simmer for about 2 hours.  The cinnamon stick should flatten out as the flavors blend together.  Serve hot and enjoy!

Posted by The Long Shot Farm

Harvest 2019

It’s near the end of October and our 2019 grape harvest is done!  This year was so much better than the rainy mess we had in 2018. We harvested 13.5 tons of grapes at the Long Shot Farm, and Zach and Rachel harvested an additional 1.5 tons at Ripplebrook Vineyard.  We had lots of help from our family and friends as we hand-picked 30,000 lbs of grapes!

We harvested the following grape varieties in 2019:

  • Chambourcin
  • Chardonel
  • Concord
  • Corot Noir
  • Niagara
  • Traminette
  • Vidal Blanc

Check out our harvest season video

   Posted by The Long Shot Farm