“Like strawberry wine and seventeen
The hot July moon saw everything
My first taste of love oh bittersweet
Green on the vine
Like strawberry wine”
For days, the lyrics trailed down the hallway. Spilling from the bathroom walls into my office to disrupt my concentration and make me hum along. Ever since I mentioned it was strawberry season and wanted to make wine from the fruit we picked, Matt blasted Deanna Carter’s hit from the ’90s.
Unfortunately, thanks to our mismatched working schedules and an extremely short strawberry season, we missed our opportunity to collect the juicy reds. Since we had already purchased most of the supplies we needed to make our first batch of wine, that’s not where this story ends.
Cue blueberry season to the rescue!
Pick Your Fruit
If you have the opportunity to do so, heading to a local farm to pick your own produce will add another layer of satisfaction to your finished product. If that’s not an option, your local farmers’ market is next best. Always support local businesses when you can.
We found this website to be incredibly helpful for figuring out which farm we should visit. If you’re reading from Maryland and have an interest in picking your own produce, bookmark this site.
After a little research and a few bouts of tears over the empty strawberry plants, we ended up at Godfrey’s Farm in Queen Anne’s County ready to load up on blueberries. Upon arrival, we learned the sour cherries were also ripe for picking and so we couldn’t leave without a bucket.
We were really lucky in that the bushes were fully loaded and we had the entire field to ourselves! We wandered up and down the rows of berries filling our buckets until they were nearly spilling over the top. The cherries were more challenging to gather as most of the lower branches had already been picked. Matt hoisted me up on his shoulders so I could reach enough fruit. I must say I think I got the better end of this situation.
The Wine Making Process
We pulled a recipe online that was pretty simple to follow. Our only real change to this recipe was to cut the amount of blueberries in half and replace them with our cherries!
Equipment you will need
– Winemakers Depot 3 Gallon Glass Wine Making Equipment Kit – This is the kit we ordered from Amazon to get us started. The size of the fermenter and glass carboy were perfect for our first time. Now that we know we are interested in continuing with this hobby, we should have opted for the 5 gallon carboy since most beer recipes are based off 5 gallons. However, if you are just wanting to dabble in wine (or beer) making, this is a great place to start. It includes your siphon hose and hydrometer you will need as well so this is a good price for everything.
–Wine Bottle Floor Corker – This is a vital tool, but it is a bit of an investment if you’re not sure you will complete more than one project in wine making. We actually rented this equipment from our local home brew store for the day. If you’re in the Annapolis area, we highly recommend stopping in to Annapolis Home Brew. They will help guide you with any of your wine making questions. If you’re reading from anywhere else, you can probably find a similar store near you.
Prepare your fruit
So now that your kitchen is overflowing with fresh, ripe fruit, you’re ready to turn it into something even more glorious. An aromatic and relaxing adult beverage.
The first thing you’ll want to do is wash all of your fruit. If you are using cherries like we did, you must take the pits out. You wouldn’t want to end up poisoning yourself and others via cyanide. If you do, I’m not listening. La la la. The pits can be toxic, so just eliminate them. Warning: This WILL be messy 🙂 If you’re looking for a way to minimize your mess, I suggest this cherry pitting tool to make your life a million times easier. Make sure you wash the cherries before doing so or you will lose all that great juice essential to flavoring your wine.
Blueberry Cherry Wine Ingredients
-Blueberries & Cherries
For exact amounts and step-by-step directions, please reference the recipe link above. We’re not experts and the provided recipe is easy to follow for beginners. You can curtail the amounts to how much wine you want to make. We planned on making enough to give out some wine as Christmas gifts this year, so we tripled the recipe. We had a whole production line set up and it was so much fun to learn this process together. Matt has made wine before, but it had been a few years since he has gotten his hands dirty.
Not only did he get his hands dirty, but together we dirtied our entire kitchen. Thanks to the purplish hue of the blueberries and cherries combined, it looked less like a murder scene and more like Barney (the dino) just gave birth. Hopefully you can be a bit more tidy than we were, but I make no apologies for my inherently clumsy nature. We have mops and Clorox wipes for that.
What really matters is that our wine turned out to be absolutely brilliant. You know, by beginners standards. We won’t be entering it into any contests but if it finds its way under your Christmas tree, I think you’ll be pleased. What started out as an idea for strawberry wine turned blueberry cherry wine was a very happy accident. We thought we accidentally made blueberry cherry juice, without the fun of the added wine buzz. After a glass at lunch, any doubt was quickly erased.
So if you miss the short window of strawberry season, get yourself some blueberries and cherries and get to work! You will not be disappointed.
The entire process does take a fair amount of time to complete, but most of that time requires zero attention and just a whole lot of patience. It’s hard to not want to keep sampling before the wine is ready.
We would have been remiss to leave our wine bottles naked. Our filled bottles just looked, well, incomplete. We browsed through some of the labels offered at the home brew store but nothing seemed adequate to slap on the product we had already put so much effort into creating. We ended up designing our own labels on UPrinting. This site was very user friendly, our labels arrived very quickly, and I wouldn’t hesitate to order from this company again in the future.
Does this design make us egotistical? Oh well, we wanted to erase any doubt that we were in fact the creators of this fine elixir! Maybe next time we will be more discreet. Or, maybe not 🙂
Let us know in the comments what flavor profile our next batch of wine should be!
Megan & Matt