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!

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 

Overflow Parking Lot

 

A big thanks to Russel Shugart excavating and his grandson for taking out those trees! This begins the first steps towards more parking.

Posted by Anja Weyant

First Wine Descriptions

Duff and I have been tasked with writing descriptions for the first 10 wines that are available at the Winery.  It took us a few weeks as we wanted to savor each bottle as we wrote about it.  We first sampled the wine a few times and independently wrote down what flavors we tasted and smelled. We were careful not to say anything till we both had written something down. It was helpful for me at this point to just reference a huge list of flavors, good and bad (from strawberries to buttered popcorn), commonly (or sometimes uncommonly) found in wine. We also made use of a taster’s reference kit, which had purified samples of all sorts of awesome and awful smells. After we combined our tasting notes, we then enjoyed a fresh glass of wine while we came up with the wine descriptions below.

Fletched
Fletching refers collectively to the vanes attached to the end of an arrow. Traditionally, three such fin-shaped feathers made the arrow fly straight and true, if attached by a skilled fletcher.  This wine is crafted from a blend of three fruits. Like the fletching, Chambourcin, Blackberry, and Vidal come together to create a sweet wine with an accent of fresh cherries and black raspberry.

Bow and arrow
Chambourcin and Blackberry, which is the bow, which is the arrow? One builds the foundation with a dark dried cherry profile, the other enlivens the wine with a shot of summer jam. A dangerous combination.

Concord
A straight forward wine with that classic grape flavor. This is the grown-up’s grape juice, but now with a sophisticated fruity bouquet.

Chambourcin
Dried cherries, dark berries, need we say more? A deep ruby wine with a soft and supple mouth feel.

Chambourcin Rosé
We have removed the cherry to expose a floral bouquet and a strawberry palate. When chilled, enjoy the mineral overtones with a hint of sweet.

Vidal Blanc
With a clean crisp acidity, slightly chilled this wine puts forth a peachy semi-sweet palate, with hints of melon.

Chardonel
Like the debutant at her own ball exhibiting her virtue, this is a crisp off-dry wine, showcasing a pure white grape profile with a lemon finish.

Valley Blush
This blend of Chambourcin Rosé and Vidal acts as the cousin to the Rosé, the one you want to spend the reunion with. Drier, lively, a bit of a lemony acidic bite, but with the strawberry flavors still coming through.

Winter Blend
You spend all season out in the woods with your bow and arrow, have nothing to show for it, and coming in from the cold, something good needs to happen. Winter blend gives you a sweet ripe cherry and apples wine that when warmed, will not improve your shot, but may make you not worry about it anymore.

BlackBerry
Slightly sweet with notes of jam and balanced acidity. This is a summer fruit reduced to its essence, to be enjoyed all year round.

Posted by Anja Weyant