Archive for the ‘Highbush Cranberry Wine’ Category

FROM LOCAL FARMS – En Santé Organic Winery & Meadery


A simple hard truth about living in Alberta: vinifera grapes don’t grow here. [yet]. As a self-professed wine snob, that hurts the feelings a little. For a time I felt pretty good considering the Okanagan valley ‘local enough’ to get my wines, but a recent drive reminded me that 14+ hours isn’t really all that local anymore. Not even all that close really. I arrived home after a punishing drive with small children to my apple tree in full-on-huge-red-apple glory, and  laughed at myself. 5 cases of wine awaited me from my tree alone. No need to drive that far, or at all.

I admittedly have become lightly obsessed with urban orchard wines, given the propensity for city yard fruit trees to produce literally tonnes of wasted fruit that can be had by all for free. [I tackled over a tonne of fruit myself this year, literally] Which, of course, made En Santé Organic Winery and Meadery a clear choice for my From Local Farms project. They had to build an industry for themselves to exist, and offer products that speak to the terroir of our region – highbush cranberry, rhubarb, saskatoon, and mead included. Xina, their winemaker, dives into a discussion about our cultural shift away from and back to regional flavors, challenges the notion of ‘conventional’ agriculture, and chats a bit about their apple wines, mead, and other products.

Highbush Cranberry Wine – 2010


Last Wednesday evening, upon light prompting [read: suggestion] from friend Valerie, I headed back into the bush to pick another round of the abundant crop of highbush cranberries. I’d picked 20 lbs already. I really didn’t need more. But only a few days prior, I’d been out to En Sante Organic Winery and Meadery [who are going to be undergoing a full-on name change and rebranding btw - that's right, you heard it here first] to shoot their From Local Farms episode that’s in editing at the moment. Xina [their winemaker] let me try their lineup, including their Kalyna wine [ukrainian for highbush cranberry], which for some reason is not listed on their website. I will fully admit, I was a bit shocked. It was impressive. It was akin to a rosé with loads of structure for an orchard wine. I find orchard wines tend to, okay nearly always,  lack in the structure department, so this opportunity is key in my homewinmaking/blending adventures. I had to try to make some.

So 20-some lbs of fruit later, I was in. Picked up a couple tips worth sharing from Xina. 1. No need to wash/rinse/sort the fruit. Into the press they go as-is. This saves loads of time. 2. The fruit is not fragile. It must be the acid. Or the stink. These things sat in a bucket in my heated basement for almost a week, and it was hard to tell when I finally got to them today. I think grapes would have rotted. Tip 3, this one from me: 3. make a cheese with berries as you see in the picture, press, then re-form and press again. They don’t let up their juice as easily as crushed apples, say, so be patient. My 20 lbs or so turned into roughly 5L of juice. I topped up the 11L carboy with water, took the SG, then chaptilized to get to 12.5%abv. Even diluted, the pH was very low: 2.96. Suggests searing acidity in the straight juice, and means this is a good candidate for low-sulphite [or no-sulphite if you roll like that] wine.

I like rosé. I like high-bush cranberries. I like structure. If all goes well, I’m going to have one mean local wine in the cellar.

Below: the resulting pommace post-press. Valerie had suggested trying to dry the berries – a great idea. I’m going to try de-seeding the skins and drying them for a dried-cran-esque element to game dishes. Other shot: the straight juice.