A little trip

This past weekend we visited the Amana Colonies here in Middle America.  It was an interesting trip.  Not so much in what we learned (which was mostly not taking kids to places with breakables and don’t forget to sample as much wine and beer as you can) but in the things we brought home.

When we there we purchased some locally made wines.  We have a number of wineries around here that make local wine, but the differance with the Amana wines is that they weren’t grape based.  They are based on fermenting fruits.  THey had a ton of flavors, but the most pugnent were rhubarb, dandelion, cantawba, along with cherry, raspberry and other berries.   Now, things have changed since the times 150 years ago, so not all the fruits are local, but they still make them right there.

I just found it interesting how wine was such an integral part of their lives that over time recipes were developed for things it’s not customary to turn into wine.  Maybe in the past it was customary for people to turn these fruits into wines, but I think, now, it offers an interesting look at wines and how to obtain these types of beverages without having to have a huge stockpile of grapes.

I wish some of our local wineries would look into this instead of producing the same red and white wines that everyone else does.

We sampled a glass of the catawba we brought home last night with some cheese and crackers.  It’s very nice.  It’s a little sweet so you couldn’t drink a lot of it, but I liked the taste well enough.  We’ll be opening the other soon.  It’s too bad they don’t wholesale the wines.  You can only get them by ordering for the stores in town.

By the way, they also have a fantastic brewery there in town, Millstream Brewery.  Their new Octoberfest flavor for the fall is fantastic.


11 responses to “A little trip

  1. Catawba is a variety of grape, Matt. It’s not a classic vinifera grape though, so it’s not a common wine to find. Wine mad from grapes dominates because it’s mass-produced and so few people make their own anymore. If it doesn’t look & taste like something from France or Napa Valley, most people just aren’t interested, which is a damn shame.

    There are several good winemaking books out there that deal with ‘rustic’ or fruit wines, and there are a ton or recipes at

    Making wine is easy! Much easier & less energy-intensive than making beer, since there’s no boiling to be done.

  2. Thanks for the info Bart. I would love to add brewing and winemaking to my skill set, but I’m not sure where the time for that would come from right now.

    I just picked up some apple wine today so we’ll see how that goes.

    I’ll check out the site and see how it goes.

  3. I love fruit wines and have always wanted to learn how to make them. On the always-growing list.

  4. Tell me about it. My list is WAYYYY too long.

  5. We recently dabbled in “wine” making … actually it was hard cider, but it’s the same principle – fermented fruit. We used apples from our neighbor’s tree. It was actually very easy. We juiced the apples, bottled the juice, covered the bottles with cheese cloth and left them on the counter for a week. We didn’t actually measure the alcohol content, but based on the flavor and the effect, it’s low. But the flavor was incredible!

    Best of all, it’s all organic (he doesn’t spray his tree), all natural (we didn’t add any sulfites), and with the exception of the reusable bottles (and the electricity for the juicer), it was free ;).

  6. Wendy–If you see this again…

    You didn’t have to add anything? You just cyphoned (sp?) the juice into the bottles?

    I’m able to buy a bushel of seconds from the apple guy for $10…hmmmm…

  7. We didn’t add anything. We juiced the apples and poured the juice (not siphoned, yet) into cleaned and sanitized glass milk bottles. We covered the openings with cheese cloth (to keep stuff out, but allow the gas to escape). Then, we let them sit. They bubbled up for a couple of days, and then, we siphoned (it’s called “racking”) the cider into bottles – the kind with the rubber flip lid – careful not to get any of the sediment on the bottom (the dead yeasties) or the foamy stuff on the top. That’s it. Nothing added. Just apples, juiced with a juicer, and left to ferment on the counter for a few days.

    We have one more still on the counter that’s going to vinegar to be used for making herbed vinegars ;).

    FYI: Higher temperatures make it ferment faster. So, if it’s still hot where you are, you can also put it in the refrigerator or a root cellar to retard the process.

  8. Thanks Wendy! I’m intrigued and I’m going to do it! Thanks!

  9. Am back online, up and running again.

    Will have to bring some of your fixins’ when you come for Thanksgiving.

  10. What would you like me to bring?

  11. Your wine /hard cider. Maybe some of your strawberry jam/syrup. Am planning a trip to War Eagle Mill for the boys to see them grind so will get some very local flour and cornmeal.

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