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!
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