Aren't All Blueberries the same?

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Scooter68

Fruit "Wine" Maker
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Why is so much difference in opinion about how many pounds of blueberries to use for my wine? Seems like there is a lot of disagreement on how much to use per gallon of wine.

Actually that's Why I am posting the following for all Beginners and really for all wine makers - as a reminder or teaching tool when we make our wine using fresh fruit or grapes. That's what the rest of this post is all about.

One problem when we all discuss how many pounds of blueberries it takes for a strong or good flavored wine is the ripeness and water content of the berries used. That's One of several issues in the equation. One person on this forum posted a picture of a bucket of blueberries - when I saw that post I went - WAIT those aren't ripe! Well actually they may very well be perfectly ripe depending on the variety of blueberry. Or if they were picked for a store originally they may have been picked early so they would 'at the peak of ripeness' when purchased. You can't always tell just by a quick look. This affects the outcome of each wine batch.

Something I've learned now after 10 years of growing blueberries at my place with my blueberry plants - If the stem part of the berry is not the same color as the rest of the berry - it isn't ripe in fact it can be downright mouth puckering. BUT that's not true on every plant I have - Some will be perfectly colored but the feel will tip you off that its ripe or not. Some, I just have to taste one or two to figure out the secrets of that particular bush. When family or friends come to visit and want to help pick blueberries I tell them I have one rule - you pick an unripe berry You eat it NOW! They think I'm joking, well yes, and no but it makes a difference and when you pick your own off your own plants you learn to tell quickly - how to end up with good ripe berries in the bucket. BUT there are so many varieties of berries with different characteristics and of course Wild Blueberries as well. I have 31 blueberry bushes of at least 10 different varieties and different ages. So when I move from one plant to another I have to remember or taste test to remind myself of what this plants berries are like. So my point is when we try to tell someone how many pounds of berries they should be using with any fruit.... it depends.... on that batch of fruit. You make think your are comparing blueberries to blueberries but they ain't the same more often than we want to believe.

So when I go to pick berries some ripen quickly, on the entire plant, some very slowly, some late, some early. Some bushes produce larger sweeter berries, some plants produce large pretty berries with low taste and light on sweetness. And of course the weather has a lot to do with it. If there has been a lot of rain the week before picking those berries will be less tasty, more water in the same berry with that flavor spread out more - like a diluted batch of wine. I pick typically every 2-3 days to allow more to ripen and I bag and freeze them in 2 or 4 cups in a freezer bag. Then, if I remember I can select from those bags the berries I know have the best flavor for my wine.

The bottom line is that part of making wine is selecting the right quality of fruit at the right time and choosing how much of it to use to get the type of wine you want. I can and have made a peach wine with just 4 pounds of peaches in a 1 gallon batch. It was pleasant but 'light on the palate' meaning it was a little light on taste. Then I went crazy and made another 1 gallon batch using 4 lbs of fresh peaches ( They weren't totally ripe I found when I cut them up.) A 3 lb bag of frozen peaches, and a large can of canned peaches. For water I used intially a half gallon bottle of 100% fruit juice White Grape and Peach. That wine is now mature and tastes excellent - and it should with that much fruit in it.

So when you read or discuss the amount of fruit one should be using for a 'good wine' it really depends on a lot of things besides the number of pounds you drop in that bucket and mash up. You can take the simple way and buy a can of prepared juice like Vintners Harvest or any of the others out there and that's not a bad thing. Been there, done that, had good and so-so results. Not to mention we all have different likes and tastes in food right? But don't poo-poo someone's ideas on the ideal wine recipe unless you are certain you are comparing the same fruit from the same plant from the same picking, ...... you get the idea I hope.

Cheers and happy trails to one and all!
 
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Most of the posts you see mentioning how many pounds per gallon of fruit are directed toward a newer winemaker looking for help.

Flavor was lacking. Use more fruit per gallon.
Wine was a little heavy tasting. Use less fruit per gallon.

I don't get that most people are on here telling anyone that "this is the way".
Most are just offering help and guidance, drawing from their experience.
 
Agree - but to a new person is looks kinda crazy sometimes - and my personal experience in the very short time I've been making wine (13 months now) is that when you are trying to get an idea on the "best way to go" it can be bewildering. When someone says they can make a great wine from 4 pounds per gallon and someone else says they used 50 pounds for 5 gallons, it can overwhelm and scare off a first timer.
My first 3 months on here I was here searching for answers to problems or seeking guidance where I had none - eventually I had to read a bunch of postings and articles on the web and in some cases in the end almost throw a dart a the board to make a decision on some issues.
The point of my post is that sometimes we have to be like that produce buyer who samples the farmers product before he makes that buying decision. One peach may be sweet as sugar the other, well, it's a peach... That makes a big difference when a person decides on which way to go. And every fruit is different as well - 20 lbs of grapes for a gallon = normal it would appear, 3-4 lbs of elderberries seems to make a strong tasting wine, and so it goes.
 
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I have access to lots of blueberries and make a 5 or 6 gallon batch each year. I entered a competition with my blueberry last year. While it earned bronze, I had an experienced judge comment that it lacked flavor and suggested a cooler ferment. I upped the poundage this year and fermented at 69 to 72 degrees. Waiting to see.
 
I have access to lots of blueberries and make a 5 or 6 gallon batch each year. I entered a competition with my blueberry last year. While it earned bronze, I had an experienced judge comment that it lacked flavor and suggested a cooler ferment. I upped the poundage this year and fermented at 69 to 72 degrees. Waiting to see.

LOL, and this year the same judge says "it is almost chunky, maybe you should back off on the amount of fruit." Sorry, couldn't resist. Arne.
 
LOL, and this year the same judge says "it is almost chunky, maybe you should back off on the amount of fruit." Sorry, couldn't resist. Arne.


Probably right. If that's the case, next year I should get it just right. Ha
 
I am still very new and learning loads from this forum. I do not intend to ever enter any contests with my wine, but plan to make what I like. I Have made blueberry, I like it fully sweet and strong in blueberry flavor. I may have made it to strong. It is good to me. It's like a Blueberry Port. Next year, going to reduce my weight per gallon, and make an f-pac with the remaining berries, to adjust flavor and back sweeten. I'll probably oak it as well, to smooth and add oak notes. I'm probably going to purchase a fastferment conical, stand and strap. I am working on finishing in my basement as well, to allow for better controlled environment. But anyway, I by the frozen fruit and it is pretty consistent it seems, or at least consistent enough for my batches.. I know I have to increase quantity because it is just 6 months old and I have 2 bottles left.. SO, I guess I am saying thanks for the info and advice everyone, and I look forward to more learning.
 
"I know I have to increase quantity because it is just 6 months old and I have 2 bottles left.. SO, I guess I am saying thanks for the info and advice everyone, and I look forward to more learning."

Tut Tut - Drinking a young wine before it's fully aged - what is the world coming to? :db

Yeah I just started making wine 13 months ago. Started with 4 batches in the first 2 1/2 months. Have maybe 4 bottles from those batches. But I do have my "Reserve" shelf - one bottle from each batch goes there to keep for at least 12-18 months. More I read the more I see and taste that Fruit wines can be great well before the 1 year point.
 
Tut Tut - Drinking a young wine before it's fully aged - what is the world coming to? :db

Yeah I just started making wine 13 months ago. Started with 4 batches in the first 2 1/2 months. Have maybe 4 bottles from those batches. But I do have my "Reserve" shelf - one bottle from each batch goes there to keep for at least 12-18 months. More I read the more I see and taste that Fruit wines can be great well before the 1 year point.


This is the reason for the buildout of my Basement.. I can have a temp controlled storage under the basement stairs for a cellar. Also, temp controlled "brew room" for fermenting and such. Also, 5+ gallon batches, for the 30 (?) bottles per batch.
 

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