Because this Amazing Wine is so Affordable!
Even before I owned this business,
I was a wine kit maker!
I can't really remember where I first heard about being able to make wine in town. By this time, I was already enjoying most white wines and a few of the lighter reds I had bought in the liquor store. They were usually a hit or miss - more often than not, I was wasting my money. I was buying them for the design on the label, for the price or for the advertisement I had seen. I had a couple of favorites and I didn't stray too far from those few bottles.
The first time I made wine with my mom and my brother-in-law. We each made a batch of something different so we could trade. A Cheeky Monkey Pinot Gris (white), A Cheeky Monkey Pinot Noir (red) and a Country Fruit Wine (raspberry) were made. After realizing the quality and price per bottle, I was hooked. I was making kits that yielded better tasting wine than some $25+ bottles from the liquor store!
Because of the rules of a Ferment-On-Premise liquor license, I can't advertise the price per bottle, but I can share it to subscribers of our newsletter, or display it in our shop. If you're interested, please sign up for our monthly email below.
I PROMISE NO SPAM!
The next newsletter will be going out in the end of February and it will be focusing on the cost per bottle for many different types of wine/beer/cider we can make here at Harvest Wine Outfitters. Trust me, you will be shocked at the price and amazed at the quality.
Always Keep Learning!
Well, I just finished teaching my first wine making class. I don't know if anyone noticed, but I was a nervous wreck on the inside. I felt so out of my comfort zone! Luckily I kept the class size super-small, only 5 people. And, big thanks to Laurie who stayed a little later than usual to make sure I was going to be alright before she left.
I wanted to start these classes for two reasons:
1) Customers kept asking for them,
2) Because I believe in the saying, "Never stop learning".
Even though I was the class leader today, I really learned a lot from the people who attended. They asked questions and lead me into further discussions. I talked so much that my voice is actually hoarse now!
Hopefully, I can improve in the next few classes. I already have some ideas on where to streamline and where to elaborate and add to the discussion; where I should shut up and where I should ask the attendees to participate more.
Interested in a class? Want us to host something? Let me know! :)
It takes a full year for grapes to grow. During this time, growers, vineyard managers and producers are estimating their production for the years ahead and hoping for the best growing season they can get. It's farming! And we know how unpredictable that can be....
Juice for kit wines are bought from multiple vineyards in multiple countries. Trends and customer demands play a roll into deciding what comes out for the home winemaker and ferment-on-premise customers. Grape supply and demand, cost and marketing are also factors. Behind the scenes, juice is selected and purchased, kits are formulated and designed, and planning is done to roll this out to the shops like Harvest Wine Outfitters (click HERE to see what's coming up).
Some of these kits are special flavors that are not available all year around. Sometimes this is because it's a flavor that would only sell well during a certain time of year. Examples are Orchard Breezin's Cranberry Apple and Niagara Mist's Spiced Lime. Cranberry Apple reminds us of fall colors, flavors and scents - Thanksgiving turkey and Christmas dinner with the family. Spiced Lime is refreshing, fun, beachy and great served cold on a hot day.
Some of these kits like RJS Craft Winemaking RQ series and Vineco's Passport Series are high quality juice kits with a limited quantity going out for sale. Wine makers wait all year just for the opportunity to purchase these kits!
Anticipation and the idea of "gotta get it now because I can't later" is the main reason these kits do so well. And it's true.... my best example is the Niagara Mist Chocolate Cherry. The last two times we've had them for sale, they've sold out. We had people coming in looking for the wine their friend had, that wine they tried at a party, the wine they drank quicker than they thought and now they need more. Sorry, sold out.
As a shop owner, I need to decide, in advance, how many kits we think we can sell? Due to the fact that they have a shelf life, we can't order too many. Order too few and we have unhappy customers. Usually we can order more than once, but there have been many times where I've had to tell a disappointed customer that the kit they are looking for, cannot be found again. Sorry, sold out.
Best way to avoid disappointment.... watch for the "Limited Editions" "Restricted Quantities" and the "Limited Releases". Call and let us know that you want us to order that kit in for you. We don't require payment for any pre-orders until they are made. We will call you when the kit arrives and can schedule a time to make the kit, when it's convenient for you.
Pre-ordering might seem like a waste of time, but believe me, if you want something you've seen advertised, call the shop ASAP. "Limited Releases", "Restricted Quantities" and "Limited Editions" are only around for a short amount of time. And if I don't know you are interested in it, I might have to say: Sorry, sold out.
The Questions We Hear The Most...
How long do I need to keep the fruit in the wine? When do I transfer the wine from my primary?
The length of time you keep your wine in your primary is a balancing act. You need to keep it in there for long enough so that you get flavor from your fruit but not too long that off-flavors will develop. It is also dependent on how you've processed your fruit, how much sugar you've added, if and when you are stirring and what type of yeast you are using. Temperature can also play a roll. We've done testing in-shop to figure out what's best for us. We usually keep it for 10 days in the primary before racking into a secondary (carboy). We stir at least once during this time. Every wine is different so this can change. When I made wine at home, I sometimes racked it at 5-10 days. It was harder to control the temperature in my house without air conditioning and sometimes it was finished earlier.
I got busy (or went to camp) and left my wine in the primary for over a month. Is it still okay?
Maybe.... You will probably have off-flavors from the yeast and oxidation by now. It might smell a little funny too. If there is anything weird (like mold) growing in there, don't taste it, just dump it! If it looks okay, you're brave and don't want to waste it, taste what's there and use your best judgement. If you are trying to keep it, add a little potassium metabisulfite right away. My advice: Dump it and get us to make your wine next time. Or, find someone who'll want to run it through a still. LOL
The yeast isn't working. What do I do?
My first questions to you would be, "How old was the yeast? What kind of yeast were you using? How cold is the area where you're making wine? Did you add any yeast nutrient? How long ago did you add it?"
The yeast was working but now there's nothing. Should I add more?
Nope! Adding too much yeast will only give yeasty flavors. Let's figure out what happened first.
There's fuzzy stuff growing on the top. Can I just scoop it off?
You can do anything you want, it's your wine. However, why would you want to risk it?! It's been compromised. It's contaminated. Dump it and start again. Just make sure you've washed and completely sanitized your equipment before you start again. Go over your wine making steps and see where you can eliminate contamination. Anything that touches your wine should be sterilized. Don't use wooden spoons. Scratches can hide bacteria. If you are making more than one batch at a time, sterilize equipment between uses.
How do I get the wine out of the primary? What size of a strainer should I use?
Wine should be removed from the primary using a racking/siphon tube. This is a hard cane shaped rod with a flexible hose attached to one end and a sediment tip on the other. This will ensure that the lees (sediment on the bottom of the pail) is not transferred into the carboy and the fruit at the top doesn't get into the carboy as well. If you want to get real fancy, ask us to sell you an "Auto-Siphon". These are the cat's ass! No muss with sucking on a hose to get the siphon action happening. As I've mentioned before, our forefathers made wine with little equipment and nothing too fancy. You don't need an auto-siphon, but once you've used it a few times, you'll never try to dump/strain your wine again.
Should I use a glass carboy or a plastic one?
Use glass if you are going to be keeping your batch in it for any longer than 3-6 months. The plastic carboys are made with food grade materials that will not leach into your wine. They are lighter to move around and won't easily break if dropped.
The color isn't right! My saskatoons were dark purple and I have a pink wine - or - My strawberry wine is orange.
The color of your wine is affected by a couple of different things. First is the amount of fruit you use. If you add more fruit and less water to your primary, those colors will be brighter. What is the color of the "meat" of the fruit? That will give you a better indication of color in the end. Some apples are really red on the skins, but the inside is white. Sometimes the color comes out of the skins, sometimes it doesn't. The clearing process will also pull some of the color out of the wine. I've had cloudy bright pink wine turn almost clear as water in the final stages. Adding a little red wine at finishing is the best way to add color before bottling.
The wine is in the carboy but it won't stop fermenting.
It will, eventually. There are 3 main types of sugar and they ferment at different rates. We've noticed that some fruits ferment faster than others. Huckleberries being the s-l-o-w-e-s-t of them all - sometimes not finishing until a month after the projected date! As long as it's still bubbling away and it's active, be patient.
Help, the wine won't clear.
How long has it been? Have you used anything to help the clearing process? Has it been degassed fully? If you don't use ingredients to help clear your wine, time is what is needed to eventually get clear wine. If you are impatient, like me, using kieselsol, chitosan, bentonite, sparkolloid, or even egg whites, will help. I prefer the 2 part clearing system of kieselsol and chitosan. It's easy to use and works pretty quickly without stripping the wine of color and flavor. Make sure it's de-gassed. If it's still bubbly, it won't clear.
The wine is still bubbly.
Has the SGV (hydrometer reading) reached a steady number for at least 3 days? Has the wine been de-gassed? If there is still yeast activity happening in the wine, there is still CO2 being produced and therefor the wine can be bubbly. Make sure you wait for the SGV to be stable. De-gas the wine by stirring it. Sometimes you might need to stir vigorously, a few minutes at a time, for a couple times a day. Invest in a wine whip! They will make easy work out of de-gassing.
How many times do I need to rack the wine? Can I just rack into a pail and then pour it back into a carboy again?
Racking is done to remove the good clear wine off of the lees (sediment). This should be done as necessary. I suggest adding a 1/4 tsp. of potassium metabisulfite each time you rack. The meta-K (for short) will help against oxidation while transferring from one carboy to the next. The less oxygen in the wine, the better. Invest in a second carboy.
Should I filter?
We filter in the shop because it makes the whole wine making process quicker. We don't have the facilities or the man power to rack wines over and over, for months on end. Most people at home don't need to filter their wines. If you are careful with your racking practices, you can eliminate this step, and in turn, keep your wine from undergoing an extra unnecessary step.
I can't bottle it right away. Is it ruined?
Once you've have stabilized it, it can sit for quite a while in the carboy. Make sure that the carboy is topped up properly and the airlock is filled and properly attached. If oxygen can get in, it can start to turn. Check the carboys and airlocks often. Liquid can evaporate over time.
What should I use to top up my carboy?
Once it's been stabilized, add some wine from a similar kind. Store bought wine is good enough for this. White wine works good for lighter fruit wines. Red wine for anything pink to red in color. Remember that adding extra wine can change the taste slightly.
How do I get the wine from the carboy into the bottles?
Invest in a pressure tipped bottle filler attachment that goes onto the end of your racking tube/siphon hose.
I bottled the wine and now I see sediment in my bottles.
Making wine at home gives you the benefit of letting the carboy sit for months at a time, ensuring the wine is perfectly clear before bottling. Sometimes it looks clear but sediment happens later. If you are concerned and want to fix it, the only way is to dump your bottles back into the carboy and reclear it using additives, or wait for it to settle and re-siphon the clear wine back into the bottles. You will lose some volume when you do this. Make sure that your carboys are topped up during the waiting game. You don't want the wine to go bad during the process.
Any other questions? Call us. We'll try to help!
They are everywhere!
Seems like every year I get asked the same question....
"Can I make wine with the apples from my backyard?"
If you are done making crabapple jelly, apple sauce, froze enough for pie filling and you still have an abundance, THINK WINE!
If you are bringing it into the shop for us to make your wine, please freeze your apples. This method ensures the fruit is softer and will release more juice. Otherwise, crushing or juicing your apples would be needed, and we don't do that in our shop. If you want to juice your apples at home, no problem. I wouldn't recommend boiling them and straining the juice. The flavor changes when the apples are cooked and clearing your wine might be more tricky.
Thawing is needed before your wine making appointment. If they are in freezer bags, they will leak. They always do! Make sure you put them in a clean container to thaw so that the juice is caught and we can add it to your wine. The fruit will shrink when thawed. Don't worry - the amount you've measured before thawing will be enough.
Remember to bring in sugar when you come in for your appointment. We have sugar on hand, but you will save money if you bring in your own. The sugar you bring in is all used up by the yeast to make your alcohol. This does not affect the sweetness of your finished wine. We do not use that method of wine making. 4 to 5kg is recommended. 4kg usually gets us about 10-11% alcohol. Enough for a wine that can be aged for about a year. Easy to drink and enjoyed by almost everyone. 5kg usually yields about 12-13% alcohol, better if you are planning to store it for a while. We can use more sugar, more than 5kg, but this is where the alcohol gets high enough that it can sometimes overpower the delicate flavor of the fruit.
What Is That You're Adding....???
Disclaimer: Everyone makes wine differently and therefor this is not a complete list, just the basics. These ingredients are stocked in our shop, but if you are looking for something not listed here, just ask. We might still carry it, or if not, be able to order it in.
Yeast - The most important ingredient in my mind! Yeast eats the sugar in the must and CO2 and alcohol are produced.
Yeast Nutrient - Yeast nutrients assist the wine yeast in producing a complete and rapid fermentation. Most fruit wine lacks the needed nutrients and that can cause a sluggish ferment, and in turn, cause off-flavors.
Acid Blend - It's the blend of the 2 or 3 most commonly found fruit acids, citric, malic and tartaric. It is used to balance the PH of the wine and make it more palatable.
Tannin - Most fruits lack enough tannin to produce a quality wine. Tannin plays 3 roles: flavor, clarification and aging. Tannins give the mouthfeel of a wine. When used, it can make your wine more complex and make a simple alcoholic fruit juice into a wine. Tannins also helps neutralize proteins and helps them drop out when clarifying. A good tannin structure in a wine can help in aging as tannins tend to soften over time. Most fruit wines will peak within a year's time. Without tannin, some fruit wines may not age well and need to be consumed fairly quickly.
Grape Concentrate - Concentrated white or red grape juice that can add body and structure to your wine when added in the primary. Use if you are lacking in the correct amount of fruit needed. I personally use red concentrate in my chokecherry wines as my "secret ingredient". Concentrate can be substituted for raisins in most fruit wine recipes.
Pectic Enzyme - Helps reduce the haze in fruit wines and ensures better clarity. It has no flavor and 2-3 teaspoons in a 23L batch can improve and speed up the clearing process.
Campden Tablets or Potassium Metabisulfite - usually one in the same, kills the wild yeasts, aids in limiting oxidization and can remove chlorine.
Sorbate - A stabilizing ingredient that is added to the wines to keep the yeast from working. It doesn't kill the yeast. If you do not use sorbate in your wines, make sure you have no residual sugars left before bottling or you can have bottle explosions!
Kieselsol & Chitosan - Two ingredients that can help clear your wine in a shorter amount of time. One creates a negative charge and the other a positive charge (I never remember which is which). These charges clump the impurities together and helps pull sediment to the bottom. Make sure you read the instructions and add them in the correct order.
Wine Conditioner - Used to back sweeten wines. Stabilized sugar and will not ferment. It can also add body as it is thicker than wine.
What Do You Need?
Our grandparents were resourceful and could make wine with simple tools and bare minimum of ingredients. It’s still possible, but let’s make it easier by using equipment designed for wine making. Here's a list of today's basics:
This would be a bucket of some kind. Food grade is suggested as you don’t want any off-flavours tainting your wine. You will need to cover it somehow. If you are using a lid, and it’s air tight, you will need to drill a hole and add an airlock. Cheesecloth or even a tea towel will work too. At the shop, we sometimes use plastic wrap secured by a loop of elastic. Just remember to pop a little pin hole in the top or the plastic will pop off with the gases made during fermentation.
Most wines need to be stirred during the first few days. A long handled stainless steel or plastic spoon is best. Wooden spoons are not recommended. They can harbour bacteria.
It is a glass tool that measures the sugars in your wine. Very important for knowing if your wine is fermenting properly. Here's a LINK to how to read your hydrometer.
Not really necessary, but very handy when making fruit wines with lots of seeds or mush.
Racking Cane, Hose and Clip
This makes siphoning your wine much easier. It allows the sediment to be undisturbed and you will need it again when bottling.
Carboy (see photo)
This is where your wine will spend most of its time. Plastic is light and easy to move. If you are not aging long term in the carboy, plastic is sufficient. If your wine will be sitting for 6+ months in the carboy, choose glass. There’s many different sizes available. Sometimes having 2 carboys per batch is quite nice, especially when you need to transfer one batch to another carboy to remove sediment and improve clarity.
Bung (My kids find this word funny!)
A rubber stopper used to seal the airlock into the opening of your carboy.
This is a very important piece of equipment! When filled properly, it will protect your wine from nasties like bugs and oxidation. Check it often, almost daily. The airlock fits into the bung on the top of the carboy.
You might get lucky in finding some of this equipment from friends or family that have made wine in the past. Check Facebook for people selling their equipment. Although it might seem like a huge investment, sometimes buying an equipment kit pays off. New buckets, carboys and spoons are not scratched up and have places where bacteria can hide to cause problems in the future.
Next Post: Ingredients needed to start a country fruit wine
Step 3 - Selecting Your Fruit & What to Bring to Your Appointment
So you’re ready to make Country Fruit Wine! You have picked and cleaned your fruit and now you are anxious to start fermenting. Here’s a couple of things to think about first, because we’ll probably ask when you come in….
What fruits are you using? Are you using more than one kind of fruit?
Most of the fruits we grow in our area make great wine. If you don’t have enough of 1 type of fruit, mix it with another.
How many bottles do you want? Full batch or half?
A full batch of wine is about 30 bottles. A half batch is 15. Think of Christmas, housewarming or hostess gifts. Most people are surprised how quickly 30 bottles disappear!
Do you want a wine with lots of body and fruit flavor? Do you want a lightly fruit flavored wine? How much fruit do you have? What was the flavor of the fruit when it was frozen?
I recommend a minimum of 4 gallons of fruit for a full batch (23L) of wine. If you want more body and more fruit flavor, use more fruit (5-6 gallons). If you want a lighter wine, use 4 gallons. If you are making a ½ batch, use ½ the fruit.
If your fruit was nice and ripe when it was frozen, it will be more flavorful. If it was lacking in flavor or didn’t taste too good when it was frozen, it won’t be any better in the wine. Know the quality of the fruit you are using.
Growing seasons play a huge role in the wine making process. If it was a wet year, the fruit could have more juice, but be less flavorful. If it had less sun, it might not be as ripe. If it grew in dry conditions, it might have more natural sugars and might have a stronger flavor. It is possible to get a completely different wine from one year to the next from the same fruit tree!
How much alcohol do you want in your wine? What kind of sugar do you want to use?
When using previously frozen, and uncrushed, fruit in our recipes, the alcohol amount can vary. However, we use a process called Chaptalization - meaning sugar is added to boost the original gravity (OG) of the wine we are trying to make. For our shop’s recipe, I recommend using 4-5kg of sugar per 23L batch. 4kg of sugar in most of these wines usually gives us a 10-12% ABV (alcohol by volume). 5kg can give us 12-14% ABV. If you are making a ½ batch, use ½ the amount of sugar.
We have used up to 8kg for a full batch, but we are getting into dangerous territory here. Too high of an OG and the yeast has a chance of dying. We`d be with a stuck fermentation and that sucks! Also, having a high ABV sometimes overpowers the flavor of the fruit, especially in the lighter wines. All you are going to taste and feel is the burn of the alcohol.
If you forget to bring in sugar, we do have regular white sugar for sale. But, to save yourself some money, please bring your own. You can also change up the sugar used for Chaptalization. Use brown sugar for a more caramel flavor (great in apple wines). Please don’t bring in any artificial sweeteners. They do not ferment properly and are a pain in the a$$ to work with. Extra work on your wine is going to delay the whole process and probably incur extra charges. Honey is great to use. Make an organic wine by choosing honey. Just make sure it’s liquid. If we have to use the microwave to make it liquid enough to mix into your wine, it does lose the good qualities of the honey. Solid honey is also much harder for us to use and we will charge you a surcharge for the extra work.
What is your timeline? Do you need it by a certain date?
Our current method of wine making can usually produce wines in 6-8 weeks. By that time, your wine should be ready for bottling. Some wines are quicker to clear and can be bottled within the 6 weeks with little trouble. Most berry wines will fall into this timeframe. The only berry wine we’ve encountered real troubles with is huckleberry. For some reason, they can take longer to ferment. Apple wines can be a real pain if it’s been a wet year, the apples have been frozen on the tree or have been picked way too ripe. Mushy apples usually produce a lot of sediment and can take extra time for racking and clearing. Peach, pear and rhubarb wines have more pectin and therefor can take extra time to clear. Patience is really a virtue here. Please don’t rush this process. If your wine needs some extra time, it’s best to let it sit.
Are you wanting an organic wine? Do you want a wine low in sulphites?
You can make an organic wine! All products with an organic content of 95% or greater are considered organic and may be labelled with the word "organic".
Use fruit that has not been sprayed with pesticides or fertilizers, use natural honey and PRESTO - organic wine! The ingredients we add are not more than the 5% of ingredients in the final product.
We can omit some sulphites during the wine making process. It does limit the shelf life of your wine as it counteracts the effects of oxygen and aids in stabilizing your wine for longer storage. Here’s a LINK to more information about sulphites. Let us know before your wine is made if you want less sulphites.
Sweet or dry?
Country Fruit Wines are usually meant to be a little on the sweet side. Think of eating an unripe strawberry or a green apple….. without the sweetness, it can be bitter and tart. If there is enough tannin in the wine, a dry wine is palatable. Some wines can be quite nice dry – saskatoon, blueberry, haskap, even some apples. We recommend all Country Fruit Wines to be off-dry. If you are unsure if off-dry is what you are looking for, please let us know. It is really easy to sweeten a Country Fruit Wine. It is almost impossible to take the sweetness away after the wine has been finished. You can always come in and taste your wine and see if it needs to be sweeter before you bottle.
Make sure you call us at 250-787-2739 to make your appointment to start your Country Fruit Wine. We fill up fast and sometimes calling a week ahead is necessary to get the time you want.
Remember to take your fruit out of the freezer in plenty of time before your appointment. It needs to be thawed. We cannot add yeast to cold fruit!
Don’t forget your sugar!
Next Post: Equipment used in wine making
Step 2 - Cleaning and Processing Fruit for Making Wine
After you’re done picking, don’t waste time. Get cleaning ASAP! The longer fruit sits, the more susceptible it is to bacteria. Keeping the fruit cool also helps the fruit retain its firmness. For an example, when I pick my raspberries, I put the buckets into the fridge until I have time to clean them. Remember: The cleaner you pick, the less time it takes to get your fruit ready for the freezer. Try not to put leaves, twigs or bad fruits into your bucket.
I usually clean most of my fruit by filling my sink 1/2 full with cool water and adding about 1/2 a gallon at a time. I let it soak for a little while, drowning any of those lurking little bugs. I go handful by handful, shuffling them over in my hands and removing anything not worthy. Be very careful not to rinse soft fruit with high powered spray of water. I put the good fruit in a colander to drip dry while I clean the remainder. Unwanted stuff gets put into the compost bucket. I also peel, slice and pit if needed, before freezing.
Once the fruit is dry (blotting with a paper towel helps), I freeze the fruit in a single layer, on a cookie sheet until firm, then transfer to a plastic bag. This is a great way to keep the fruit from sticking together and freezing in one huge lump. Removing as much air as possible also helps protect the fruit against freezer burn. Every bag that goes into the freezer is also labelled with the type of fruit and the year. We use this fruit in smoothies and desserts later in the year and this freezing method makes it really easy to take out the amount you need.
Why we like freezing the fruit prior to wine making…
Processing tips for making wine at our shop:
No matter which freezer bags you use, more often than not, they will leak once the fruit starts to thaw. Maybe the plastic breaks down over time; maybe the bags get snagged or nicked when in the freezer. Whatever the reason, NEVER trust a freezer bag to keep in the juice while thawing. Always put your bags into a clean container that can catch all of the leaking juice. This juice should not be dumped out. There's lots of flavor and color that can be added to your wine!
Next Post: Selecting your fruit for wine making and what to bring to your appointment
Step 1 - Picking Your Fruit
I remember as a child, going berry picking with my grandparents. We'd load up in the farm truck, buckets, bug spray and a lunch Grandma had packed, Grandpa's gun in the back window, and head down to the hills of the Peace River for some berry picking. We had a "special place" they liked to go. Before the popularity and necessity of sunscreen, we'd usually return home with bug bites, sunburn and a few buckets full of saskatoons. Being out with my grandparents was always fun, but I sure didn't like picking berries. Not a fan of saskatoons, I would usually find myself a spot and stay there all day, dreaming and swatting the mosquitoes, probably whining about wanting to go home.
Fast forward 30 years and here I am, an avid berry picker. I LOVE IT! Maybe just a chance to relive times with my grandparents, maybe because I am happy to have an abundance of natural and healthy food to feed my own family. As my grandparents and parents did to me and my sister, I now pack up my kids as well and make them come picking. I still hate cleaning the berries once I bring them home. A tedious job as my OCD kicks in high gear. Never a leaf, bug or spoiled fruit would be found in my cleaned berries!
But, where do you find fruit?
If you don't have the great advantage of owning property that has wild fruit bushes, you'll need to find someone who is willing to let you onto their property. Edge of roads and on the hill sides are great areas where saskatoons can be found in our area. But remember, some of these places could be privately owned. Always ask for permission before entering on private property. Chokecherry trees can be found on the banks of the Peace River and Beatton River hills. Patches of wild raspberries, wild strawberries, wild blueberries, huckleberries, cranberries, rosehips and other edibles can be found all over the Peace area. Ask around. (PS - I would love it if someone would share their huckleberry patch with me!) Crabapples can be found in lots of backyards in most of the older homes in Fort St. John. There are cherry trees planted at the Pomeroy Sports Centre. If you have a fruit tree, don't want to use the fruit, don't want to clean up the fruit on the ground and have it go to waste - think about letting people come pick it! Leave your name at our shop and I will pass it along to those looking for extra fruit. There are a few u-pick places around as well: I know there's a saskatoon u-pick in the Grandhaven/Charlie Lake area somewhere, there's a farm up the highway that has haskaps available, and there's the market gardens at Dunvegan, AB for strawberries.
Click HERE for a great reference on wild berries in BC. Find out what's safe to eat!
Checklist for berry picking:
1) Bug spray
2) Sunscreen/large brimmed hat/shirt with long sleeves (older one so stains don't matter)
3) Buckets - I usually take 1 large and 1 small. Pick with the small and empty it into the large.
4) Music player/partner/dog/bear spray (make noise - remember you're in bear habitat)
5) Good shoes, especially if you are picking along the river hills. Hard to walk the hills in flip-flops!
7) If you're driving, make sure you have lots of gas and let someone know where you're going and when you'll be back. (Don't ask how I know this!)
8) Check the weather. You'd hate to get to the berry patch just to find out that it's going to rain and you're unprepared to pick in a downpour.
9) Baby wipes (great for getting sticky juice off your fingers, or mouth. LOL)
10) Enjoy the time in the fresh air, surrounded by nature!
Don't have the time to pick? Check out the different fruit trucks in the area. Since you want ripe fruit for Country Fruit Wines, ask if they have any overripe fruit at a discount. Make sure you check it over. Spoiled or rotten fruit cannot be used to make good wine. Check the grocery store for sales in the produce or freezer sections. We've made many batches of great wine from Costco frozen fruit too!
Next Post: Cleaning and getting your fruit ready for wine making