Last weekend I stumbled upon a rare treat in the basement: a 17-year-old plum wine, one of my early efforts at winemaking.
The wine exuded a deep, flowery perfume that reminded me of our plum blossoms in spring. The purple skin on the golden fruit created a deep sunset-colored liquid. Talk about rich and smooth. I prefer dry wines, so this one didn’t get much sweetener during finishing. For a few hours anyway, the particularly brutal winter dissolved in memories of ripe, succulent fruit, warm sun, and long, golden evenings.
I wax poetic to convince you that now is the time to start planting your own “vineyard”. Wild fruits like the Native Plum, Nanking Cherry, Sand Cherry, and Chokecherry, in addition to surviving the brutal weather of the Colorado Front Range, make beautiful wines or jams.
If you own acreage and have a state forest service nursery in your area, you qualify to buy bare root stock (tiny plant babies) for just under 50 cents per plant in batches of 50. (Just Google "state forestry nursery" in the search bar below, along with your state's name.) Or, you can go to your local retail nursery and get larger versions of these wild plants, nearly ready to produce fruit. Earth Day is coming up soon. What better way to help Earth and the animals that like to hide in bushes than with a planting?
And don’t worry about the how-to’s. There are plenty of online stores out there, just itching to sell you books of wine recipes, high-quality ingredients, and tools that will help you build a wine comparable to anything you can find in stores. Who knows? You may have a winemaking store in your own town!
Making wine is not rocket science, just good, properly-cleaned equipment, precision, and a feel for correctly-ripened fruit. You can drink the wine in as little as six months, but save a few bottles, and 15 years from now, you can thank me for the experience!
You might also enjoy: Wine Lovers on Horseback Canter, Slurp in Bordeaux
A wonderful wine-making store: Hops & Berries
A great book: From Vines to Wines/Jeff Cox (Good information about growing grapes.)