Grow fruit for winemaking

One of the ways you can save money making wine is to grow your own fruit. Currently we are growing wine grapes. We have 5 varieties that include Catabaw, DeChaunc, Cayoga White, Syval, and Niagra. They are in their 2nd year so I am developing the stock this year. Hopefully next year I can get a small crop and see what kind of wine they will make. I ordered mine from Double A Vineyards.

We ordered 2 cherry trees this year, one Blackgold Cherry and one Star Stella Cherry, from Miller Nurseries. We planted them in the back yard. I had to take down some trees to make room, but I think it will be worth it. We have a Cherry\Elderberry\Blackberry blend wine that is bulk aging in the cellar. It is coming along nicely, I can’t wait to be able to use my own cherries in wine!

We also bought 2 Elderberry bushes, Johns and Adams. We have some wild Elderberries growing, but I wanted to see how the commercial varieties fair. I’ve been making Elderberry wine from wild Elderberries for years. The commercial varieties are supposed to have larger clusters and a better berry. We shall see.

We also bought some Blueberry bushes. Millers had a special where you could order three varieties. We chose Atlantic, Ivanhoe, and Herbert. Ivanhoe has large light blue berries that ripen first in July. Atlantic has large yeilds and ripens in August. Herbert is another high yield blueberry and it ripens in September. Once mature, we should have blueberries from July until September.

Finally, we ordered some Blackberries (although we have enough growing wild we really didn’t need too). We ordered Chester Thornfree, Triple Crown, and Illini. I don’t know how well they will do since we planted them next to the wild Blackberries. I might be better off cultivating the ones growing wild.

We won’t get any blueberries this year. It might be another 2-3 years before we get get a decent crop. We should be able to get some wild blackberries this year. Hopefully I can get enough to make a 5 gallon batch of wine. Same with the Elderberries, I have some wild ones that will produce fruit, but the ones we bought won’t bear fruit until next year or the year after. Finally, with my grapes, I hope to have enough of a crop to make a small batch of wine next year.

Gardening, like wine making is a hobby that requires patience. It will be 2-3 years before the plants we bought will begin to produce useful amounts of fruit. Some wines take at least that long to mature. Patience will be rewarded though, when you taste that perfect bottle of wine made from fruit you’ve grown yourself.

Enjoy!