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!

2020 Pennsylvania Farm Show Wine Competition

2020 PA Farm Show Wine Competition Results

This year we entered our wine in the Pennsylvania Farm Show Wine Competition. We are excited to report that all 4 of the wines we submitted received a medal!

The competition is open to any Pennsylvania winery.  Wines must be made with at least 75% of Pennsylvania fruit and have been produced in a quantity of at least 100 gallons.  So we must have at least 42 cases of the wine.  The Winery at the Long Shot Farm had only 4 wines that met these requirements.

An independent panel of experts tastes and scores the wine.  If the score meets certain thresholds then that wine receives a medal. As a result you can have multiple bronze, silver, and gold medal winners in each category.

This year we received a gold medal for our 2017 Vidal Blanc, a silver medal for 2018 Fletched, and bronze medals for 2018 Chambourcin Rosé and 2018 Sweet Mountain Mist.

Tina, Sam, and I attended the Pennsylvania Farm Show Wine Competition awards ceremony. Awards are presented to each winery one at a time.  It was wonderful to see all of Tina and Jeff’s hard work recognized by such an important PA wine competition.

We are looking forward to submitting more wines next year to see how they measure up.

Posted by Anja Weyant

 

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

Vidal-Alfredo Food Pairing

It is the simple things in life that matter.

This is most certainly true when it comes to Alfredo.  I am not fooled by those jars in the grocery store that pretend to be Alfredo and are white and gooey and plop out of the jar with a sickening Gak sound.   I make my Alfredo as simply as possible with just a handful of ingredients:

  • 1 and 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 1/2 freshly grated parmesan
  • salt and pepper

Bring the first 3 ingredients to a boil, reduce heat to simmer and let thicken a few minutes.  Add salt and pepper.  Toss with pasta and parmesan.

I like to add in a few vegetables and chicken sometimes.  To pair with the Vidal wine I added asparagus and toasted pine nuts.  A satisfying Friday night meal after a full week.

Posted by Anja Weyant

Strawberry Wine

 

We are excited to start a batch of strawberry wine! Fruit wines typically take less than a year to complete. We purchased locally enough strawberries to make a small batch of wine.  The wine will have a pleasant perfumey bouquet and the taste of strawberries will come out cleanly. Dry or sweet this wine will be something to look forward to.

Posted by Anja Weyant