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Making Blueberry Wine [Farming
Posted on April 2, 2019 @ 07:17:00 PM by Paul Meagher

I spent last weekend at the farm. One reason I went was to prune some grape vines before the ground thaws and the vine sap starts flowing. One sign that the ground is starting to thaw is that I got my water back in the barn. I've been stalled in my wine making because I didn't have running water in the barn to clean the wine making equipment. Temps were still a little too cold to do any wine making, but I did manage to sample a few blueberry wines and blueberry/grape blends with my brother-in-law. The 4 carboys we tested all seemed quite drinkable. It is difficult, however, to fully determine the flavor of the blue and blue/red wines when the wine is on the chilled side and most of the volatile aromas are muted.

In the video below I reveal the various recipes I am testing. I'm trying to figure out what wines I should make more of next year. I am experimenting with different starting brix levels and blends to figure that out.

Each label that appears on a carboy has a transfer number in the first position that indicates what 20 gallon fermenter they came from. Usually I get 2 carboys of wine from each 20 gallon fermenter after I press the wine and collect it into the glass carboys. If I am making a pure blueberry wine then my label (e.g., "T1 BB 22") will only display a transfer number (T1), the abbreviation for blueberry fruit (BB) and the starting Brix (22). If I am making a blended wine, then I will have a label that indicates the types of fruit used and the number of 5 gallon buckets of fruit used (50 lbs per bucket). The label "T10 25 BB 125 MF 125" means it came from the 10th primary fermenter, was started at 25 brix, I used 1.25 buckets of crushed blueberries (62.5 lbs) and 1.25 buckets of crushed Marechal Foch grapes (62.5 lbs) in my blend.

Saturday evening I went for an ATV ride to the blueberry fields to see what they looked like in early spring. While spring has started to arrive near the coast where the farmstead is, if you move inland to higher elevations, the snow is still very much around. Up here there is still snow around the margins of the fields but the darker patches where the blueberries will grow looks like they are doing fine. This is the main field where I will be harvesting most of my blueberries from this year.

Other things I thought about this weekend was that I feel comfortable remaining a smaller-scale artisanal wine maker when I make wine from this years harvest. I will likely double my wine production but I don't plan to invest in alot of expensive blueberry harvesting and wine making equipment to do so, in part because me and my wife want to bootstrap this wine venture with our own funds rather than get loans. Within the next few weeks, I plan to section off another part of the barn as a longer term storage area for my carboys. I'm hoping that later in the summer I will be able to start selling some artisanal wine from the farm for the first time. We'll see what the alcohol gatekeepers have to say about that. There will be alot of regulatory paperwork to file this year.

A section of the barn was upgraded by the previous owners to mill the fiber from llamas, alpacas, sheep, and goats into something that the people providing the fiber could use to make products with. It was a good idea. They had lots of equipment from Ireland for milling the fiber and called the upgraded section of the barn where it was housed the Mill House. The venture appeared to fail because the operators and/or the equipment couldn't yield a product the client was satisfied with. Ever since we purchased the farm 8.5 years ago, we've called the upgraded section of the barn the Mill House. I think we will keep that piece of history alive and continue calling it the Mill House rather than the Winery which is really what it is now. Hopefully the Mill House will be more successful as a Winery.

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